Mumbai: Private offices have started opening in the fifth stage of the lockdown, also referred to as ‘Mission Begin Again’ by the state government. This caused major traffic chaos in Mumbai. Although permission has been granted to restart offices, the local trains, known as the lifeline of Mumbai, have not yet started. There was a huge number of cars and two-wheelers on the road in the absence of public transport systems. This caused major traffic snarls in Mumbai suburbs, and on the Kalyan-Bhiwandi road, along with the Western Express Highway. The violation of social distancing norms by these travellers was rampant at various places around the city.
The country is under lockdown since 25th March. The restrictions have been relaxed in the fifth stage of the lockdown. As per the guidelines issued by the government for the fifth stage, attendance of 10% of employees is allowed in government and private offices. But this caused traffic chaos in the city on the first day itself. There were a large number of private vehicles on the road, as the bus services were also limited and for a restricted number of passengers. Serpentine queues of cars were seen on the Western Express Highway going towards Churchgate.
There was massive crowding of vehicles on the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marg in Dadar East in Mumbai. Whereas, the traffic was moving slowly on the Sion-Panvel highway, King’s Circle, Kala Nagar and junctions at Andheri and Bandra in the western suburbs. A similar picture was seen at the Dahisar, Mulund and Vashi toll plazas. A maximum number of vehicles coming from Thane, Bhayandar, Vasai, Mira Road and Navi Mumbai were seen at the toll plazas. There was the usual morning traffic jam at the Kandivali-Goregaon sector of the Western Express Highway. Many cars were stationary for long periods at these places. The outstation vehicles also added to the traffic chaos here.
There were long queues at the Anand Nagar-Mulund Toll plaza in Thane. Major traffic jams were seen on the Kalyan-Shil Phata road and Kalyan-Bhiwandi road. The road-widening work is being carried out on both these roads. The vehicle owners accused that the traffic jam was mainly due to lack of planning. Along with these traffic jams, a large number of passengers had assembled at the bus stops to reach their place of work. Despite the orders to follow social distancing norms, no one was willing to follow the rules. The serpentine queues for buses reached the Phadke Road from Indira Chowk bus stop in Dombivali.
The situation is grim in Mumbai and Thane districts due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government is appealing to the citizens to follow social distancing norms. Following the relaxation of the lockdown, citizens are irresponsibly leaving their houses without paying any heed to the gravity of the situation.