THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The capital city is growing and so are concerns over traffic congestion. TNIE takes stock of the situation at two busy points in Thiruvananthapuram - the Kazhakoottam Junction near the Technopark and the Medical College Junction. Scientific traffic management is still a distant dream for both the places.
Imagine a cardiac arrest victim being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. And what if the vehicle is stuck in a traffic jam just a few hundred metres away from the casualty wing.
Now, hold your imagination and drop in on the road in front of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital. Here, you can witness such surreal life and death moments during the rush hours.
Many of them are saved, thanks to some 'stunt drivers' behind the wheels who would cut lanes and race forward. But every year, a couple of patients lose their battle on the last leg of their race for life.
The stretch connecting the MCH with the nearby Kochulloor Junction is infamous for chaos and confusion. Quite often, you will see ambulances with blaring sirens getting stuck in traffic. The hospital is one of the best centres in the state to treat cardiac ailments and stroke. Every day, dozens of patients are brought here from faraway places in a critical condition.
Nithin Raj, an ambulance driver based on the hospital campus, said traffic blocks are nightmares for them when transporting patients in a severe condition.
"Ambulances coming from the Kochulloor side are the most-affected. Sometimes we manage to cut the lane but it is possible only if the vehicle is stuck near a median break," he said.
Even after 67 years of the hospital's establishment, the government or the civic body has not addressed the issue properly. Some much-hyped solutions like a new bus stand have turned out to be drastic failures. The bus station was opened in 2015, a few metres away from the main gate of the hospital. But private bus drivers seldom obey directions by the district administration to park buses at the station to avoid stoppages on the busy road.
Buses coming from the Pattom and Kumarapuram roads continue to avoid the stand and stop just a few metres ahead of the parallel entrance near the main gate. In mornings and evenings, these stoppages lead to traffic snarls, sometimes obstructing the freeway marked on the road for easy access to the hospital.
Private bus operators claim the bus station was built unscientifically and the problem will only increase if all buses start using it. Sabu V N, a private bus conductor, said entering the bus stand was convenient only for vehicles coming from one side - Kochulloor.
"If buses from Pattom and Kumarapuram sides attempt to enter the stand situated on the opposite side of the road, vehicle movement in either direction will get blocked," he said.
A civil police officer posted at the junction too endorsed the bus staffs' claim. He said the police do not press the buses to use the bus stand for the same reason.
Another "solution" introduced at the junction is a traffic signal at the meeting point of the Kumarapuram and Pattom roads. The signal was switched off a few days after its inauguration. According to the police, the signal, if put to use, will result in mammoth traffic jams blocking all roads.