THRISSUR: As the FASTag system launched through NPCI came into effect in all toll plazas from Wednesday, Paliyekkara Toll Plaza in the district witnessed long queues of vehicles that reached Amballur junction (towards Kochi) and Manali bridge (towards Palakkad).
The huge rush of vehicles, especially during office hours, created trouble to the staff as well as passengers, who had to wait for hours in the morning. Two ambulances were also trapped in the queue as they couldn’t find way to reach the emergency track at the plaza.
“We waited for more than one hour to cross the toll gate as we had not switched over to FASTag system in our car. We actually possess the free pass issued by the toll plaza some years ago, but it is quite difficult to cross the plaza as the authorities have earmarked only one track for local people like us,” said Vijayan, who lives near the plaza. Though many use interior rural roads to avoid the toll gate, in some circumstances they are compelled to depend on the toll gate to reach the other side of the road.
Paliyekkara plaza has 12 tracks, of which two are reserved for emergency vehicles. Out of the 12, eight tracks have been linked to FASTag system and the remaining two in both directions are allocated for vehicles without FASTag.
The queuing that started from morning continued till noon. On many occasions, irate passengers locked horns with plaza staff. Commuters to the Nedumbassery airport and heavy vehicles bound for other states waited at the plaza for hours hoping that the snarl-up would clear soon. Following protests and traffic blocks in the entire region, Puthukkad police intervened and let the gate remain open for some time to ease the traffic.
Responding to the issue, Joseph Tajet, DCC vice-president, alleged that the situation at the plaza on Wednesday was a making of the state government. “Around 18 months ago, we had informed the state government on the possible adversities of implementing FASTag without adequate preparations. As the state government failed to act, I approached the High Court. The court directed the state government to find a solution to the issue. Following this, the state government submitted an undertaking that it would pay `150 for each resident and they would be issued smart cards to cross the gate. The state government never addressed the issue properly,” he said.
Congress is planning to launch protests against the state government which is turning a blind eye to the plight of local people.
“We are even thinking about a protest strike here, but are yet to take a decision,” said Joseph. A rough estimate shows that around 8,000 to 9,000 vehicles of local residents pass through the toll gate daily.
The local people said they want the NHAI to allocate more tracks for their vehicles.