KOCHI: Traffic movement in Kochi city went haywire leaving commuters stranded for several hours following the massive protest rally taken out by Islamic organisations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Wednesday. The worst-hit was the traffic on Banerji Road which was fully blocked for more than oneand- a-half hours as the procession was taken out from Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium to Marine Drive Ground. No untoward incidents were reported during the march, which started at 4 pm. The police had planned to keep one side of Banerji Road (from Kacheripady to Palarivattom) open for traffic, leaving the other for protesters. However, protesters on most stretches occupied both sides of the road preventing vehicle movement.
There were not enough police personnel to ensure smooth passage of vehicles till the procession ended around 5.30 pm. Even the footpaths along Banerji Road were also occupied by protesters affecting pedestrian movement. Several travellers from outside the city, who were unaware of the protest march, got stuck in various parts of the city. “We came from Irinjalakkuda for shopping at MG Road. We are not familiar with inner roads here.
Unaware of the protest rally, we had to wait for more than one hour to cross Edappally,” James Varghese, who was found waiting with his family at Kaloor at 4.30pm. However, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) (Traffic East) Francis Shelbi said traffic was properly managed by the police. “One side of Banerji Road was kept open for traffic movement.
We let the private vehicles to use Banerji Road. The public transport buses were diverted through other roads. No traffic-related issue was reported. Enough policemen were deployed in all parts of the city to ensure smooth traffic movement,” he said. Anticipating the roadblock, several schools in the city were closed by afternoon.
Following prior information passed on by the police, several commuters preferred to travel on Kochi Metro trains. Kochi Metro witnessed heavy rush from the morning as the ridership crossed one lakh mark before 8 pm. Several private buses stopped service by afternoon. KSRTC buses were diverted through other roads. “Several people who came to the protest march parked their vehicles in Aluva and Vytilla. They arrived in Kochi using the Metro. Regular commuters in Kochi have already switched to the Metro during rush hours,” Francis Shelbi said.
Plastic waste all around
Kochi corporation officials have had to bear the major brunt of the anti-CAA march as protesters dumped plastic waste, mostly mineral water bottles, on Banerji Road. Interestingly, single-use plastic ban came into effect in Kerala from Wednesday. “Most of the protesters came with mineral water bottles. After consuming the water, they threw the bottles all around. Removing them will be a herculean task. Workers will be deployed to clean the roads on Thursday,” a corporation official said.
Metro ridership touches 1.12 lakh Kochi: With the city witnessing heavy traffic regulations on Wednesday from 3 pm to 9 pm, the public was left with no option but to choose the Kochi Metro for travel. As a result, for the second time since its inception, the single-day ridership of Kochi Metro crossed one lakh on the New Year day. The ridership till 11 pm on Wednesday was 1,12,348. Most of the protesters, who attended the meeting at Marine Drive, rushed to the nearest Metro station on MG Road to reach the places where they had parked their vehicles. It was on September 13, 2019, soon after the services were extended up to Thykoodam that the single-day ridership of Kochi Metro crossed one lakh for the first time.