Marol Naka traffic: A commuter’s nightmare

Mumbai: In the absence of any semblance of traffic management in the area, the four-way intersection of Andheri-Kurla Road and Marol-Maroshi Road in Andheri East has become a chronic traffic congestion spot, with commutes through the junction becoming a nightmare for residents in the area and those who have to pass through on their daily route.

During a spot visit by the Free Press Journal during peak hours on Tuesday morning, there was not a single on-duty traffic policeman at the busy intersection, and the lone traffic signal was not operational.

As a result, vehicular movement in all four directions – vehicles coming from Sakinaka and turning into Marol-Maroshi Road; traffic from Chakala and Airport Road heading into Marol-Maroshi Road, motorists exiting Marol-Maroshi Road and those crossing Marol Naka to head straight down Andheri-Kurla Road towards Sakinaka – was taking place simultaneously, leading to near-collisions and holding up traffic flow.

Moreover, there was an absence of any zebra crossings marked at the junction, and senior citizens and school children could be seen crossing the busy intersection while taking significant risks.

While traffic diversions are in place for traffic heading out of Military Road not to exit at Marol Naka, a temporary one-way ramp necessitated by undergound metro construction work actually sees traffic in both directions.

Both Andheri-Kurla Road and Marol-Maroshi Road are busy thoroughfares that see high traffic volume through the day. It provides crucial east-west connectivity, and is used by those heading from Ghatkopar and other eastern suburbs to the airport.

Traffic congestion in the area has been an issue since 2017, due to the construction work on the Metro-3 route. However, the problem is exacerbated by lack of any traffic management, and the absence of a working traffic signal to regulate traffic flow. Autorickshaw drivers idling near the Marol naka metro station’s exits are another cause of traffic snarls.

According to regular commuters, due to congestion at Marol Naka junction, travel from Military Road to Marol Naka, which should take 10 minutes, actually takes at least 40 minutes.

“Due to the absence of traffic police and traffic lights, there is complete pandemonium during the wee hours of the day. Nobody adheres to the traffic laws and sneaks in from wherever they get any space,” said IT professional Sanjay Gupte, who drives regularly between Marol and Kurla.

Gupte said the lack of any zebra crossing tends to make the road more accident-prone as people tend to cross the road haphazardly.

Vaishali Pandey who takes her daughter every day to Marol's St. John's school said that when the school gets over each afternoon, there is severe congestion on the road, due to the mismanagement at the traffic intersection. She claimed two minor accidents had also taken place at the spot in the recent past.

Owner of a 15-year-old stationery shop at the Marol Maroshi Road, Deepak Kumar said that often ambulances heading to Seven Hills Hospital get stuck in the congestion.

Two months back, a person died in an ambulance as it failed to reach the hospital on time. The road is meant to be one-way but as there is no police or traffic lights, vehicles from both sides keep coming in,” said Kumar.

Marol-based export manager, Ravi Nair has been writing to the officials of Mumbai Police (Traffic) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for more than five years urging them to take immediate action on the traffic situation.

Nair told FPJ he had written to and met the DCP (Traffic) in 2017, who assured immediate resolution to the problem, which failed to materialise.

“It seems we are a reactive country and not a pro-active one. We only tend to react to situations when someone dies. The reason there had been no reaction from the authorities so far is because there has been no major accident,” said Nair.

According to Nair, local residents had earlier urged the local authorities to deploy traffic policemen at least during school hours, but no one paid heed.

When contacted, the local BJP corporator Sunil Yadav refrained from comment. “The signal is non-operational due to ongoing metro work," said Sanjay Narvekar, Senior Police Inspector, Sahar Traffic division under which Marol naka falls. He claimed that traffic policemen are deployed at the junction.