Sealink faces traffic snarls

Sealink faces traffic snarls

Police patrol boat runs aground, Coast Guard to the rescue

 The first day of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link was all bad news — a police patrol boat deployed in the sea near the sealink for security purposes went adrift and then ran aground, while there was complete chaos on the sealink and approach roads as traffice moved an snail’s pace.

The patrolling vessel was carrying four police personnel, a fisherman and four operators and was on duty since Tuesday, when the sealink was thrown open by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in presence of the Who’s Who of India’s ruling coalition.
After the opening ceremony, the patrol vessel was ordered to turn back to its base at Ferry Wharf on the east coast of Mumbai. The sea, however, was too rough and the wind velocity was too high for the boat to traverse the route, so it stayed put at the same location overnight.

In the early hours, as the sea waves lessened, the boat started its return journey, but its engine got stuck in the firshermen’s net on Worli side of the sea link. The boat crew jumped into the sea and tried to disengage the engine, but to no avail.

By this time, the sea again started getting rough and the vessel began to drift on Bandra side. There, it ran aground in the rocky patches.

Frightened policemen had already alerted the control room, which in turn requested urgent help from the Coast Guard and the Navy.

“We received a call from the police control that the boat had got caught in low tide and was stuck since the early hours,” chief of staff (Operations)M V Baadkar of the Coast Guard said.

Immediately, a Coast Guard chopper was sent to rescue the policemen and others on board. “The four operators on board said they would want to stay on the boat to try and save it. But we got another call a few hours later and the chopper was sent again,” Baadkar said. All cops and operators on board were rescued and brought to the shore safely, while efforts would be made later to retrieve the vessel.

Free ride

While this drama was unfolding on the sea, there was a complete traffic jam on the sealink and approach roads after the longest cable-stayed sea bridge in the country was thrown open to traffic on Wednesday morning for motorists. Taking advantage of the free ride allowed on the sealink for the first five days, enthusiastic motorists had rushed to the bridge at the first opportunity.

There was traffic congestion on the sea link due to a speed breaker at the Worli exit point.

Four-wheelers slowed down when they arrived at this point. To clear the pile-up, the speed breaker was removed.

A sharp turn and a lengthy divider at Worli was another reason attributed for the traffic jams.

For many motorists, it took almost 35 to 40 minutes to traverse the bridge due to jams, although they enjoyed the ride. “We thought it would be like another express highway and we would enjoy a speed ride, watching the sea. The experience was pretty good. It took 35 minutes to reach Worli from Bandra, thanks to traffic,” a real estage agent said.

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