Sparking off another traffic jam

Sparking off another traffic jam

Sparking off  another traffic jam

A vital traffic route for Vijayanagar and Rajajinagar in West Bangalore to approach the central business district is the Okalipuram and Seshadri Road block. Commuters travel on Seshadri road to K R Circle, Corporation or towards Vidhana Soudh and M G Road.

Processions on the Seshadri road from the flyover to Freedom park brings traffic to a literal halt. And this has been happening for years.

The processions that are organized in this West Bangalore link include those of trade unions, farmers, textile workers, political parties, suburban-rural Bangaloreans who want to bring attention to problems in the suburban towns around Bangalore.

Some among these processions take place from the flyover – this chokes traffic coming from Basweshwarnagar  and Vijayanagar. The traffic piles up at the start of the fly-over when upto 1,000 people begin to walk on the flyover towards Freedom Park. It takes nothing less than 30 minutes to clear way for vehicles by asking protestors to occupy one side of the road and leave the other side for traffic. Thirty minutes to cross just one road – Seshadri road – is nerve-wracking for commuters as a kilometer long processions walks on.

The farmers’ procession sees scores of vehicles, mostly jeeps, parked on Seshadri Road, which reduces the space on the road. Commuters move at snail’s pace until police intervene and get the farmers to occupy the road leading to Gandhinagar near Freedom Park.

Working class and womens’ processions typically start from the edge of the flyover near the majestic bus stand. Commuters have to stop bang in the middle of the road for such rallies.

Then arguments between the processionists and the police commence till the police can convince them that their needs will be brought to the attention of the authorities, but now they have to clear one side of the flyover to allow for traffic. This gradually happens and traffic moves on.

The processions are organized by the working class and weaker sections who have their own forum or who work in a political party or trade union. Lack of electricity, water and jobs and better prices for farming products are the problems highlighted.
The people do find that grievances are addressed to some extent. Word is out that in Bangalore if you have to get things done, it would be by staging protests in the middle of the city. They understand processions on the peripheries of the city bring no benefit for them.
Motorists who are in a rush to reach office between 9 am and 12 noon are in for surprises.  Traffic is generally smooth when all of a sudden rally comes up. Seshadri road is the nerve centre of protests by the working class and therefore sees the most number of processions in the city.  Vehicle pile-up starts from Rajajinagar’s Ramkumar mills, extends to Okalipuram and then the Seshadri road flyover.

As one young lawyer, Srinivas Ramdurai who works on Vittal Mallya road says, “I start my day early from Basaweshwarnagar  not knowing which procession would be organized on Seshadri road. I need to give myself 30 minutes to cross the Okalipuram bridge. And another 20 minutes for rest of the commute. In all, during procession time, I take 50 minutes to get to work, which otherwise would be 25 minutes. But I see the point of the protestors. There is no use protesting at the borders of Bangalore. But if the protestors gather at a central point like freedom park, then both processions and traffic can co-exist.”

Traditionally west Bangalore sees more traffic stoppages than east or south as the area seems more protests and processions compared to the other regions. This is a historical fact suddenly caught in the vortex of the modern daily traffic. Given the nature of issues raised by the processionists, it is hard to see the end of rallies in Western Bangalore which is close to the seat of power.

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