Traffic moved at snail’s pace on Mahatma Gandhi Setu on Thursday following an accident on its approach road in the small hours. Breakdown of a truck on the bridge around 2am rattled the commuters further.
The queue of vehicles extended up to at least 5km on either side of the bridge. The 5.575km-long bridge was also chock-a-block with vehicles. The vehicles started moving slowly around 10am.
Commuters, especially children and senior citizens, had a tiring time stuck in the jam amid heat and hot breeze. Several ambulances ferrying patients were also stuck in the jam.
Sources said a truck rammed into several vehicles on the NH-30 under the jurisdiction of Didarganj police station last night after its driver lost control over the vehicle. A police officer posted on the bridge claimed that the situation worsened after another truck broke down on one of the one-way stretches on the Setu in the small hours of Thursday.
Hundreds entering and leaving the city were stuck on the dilapidated bridge, connecting north Bihar to the south, for hours. The soaring temperature (maximum of 36.7°C) and the failure of a handful of traffic constables and district police personnel to ease the congestion added to their misery.
Passersby claimed that several ambulances were stuck in the snarl. “I somehow managed to cross the bridge in the morning. I saw an ambulance stuck in the middle of the bridge. The ambulance driver said a critical patient from Begusarai was on board and was supposed to undergo a surgery in one of the hospitals in Patna at 11am. The relatives of the patient seemed panicking inside the ambulance,” said Anil Kumar, a resident of Patna City.
Tired of sitting in the vehicles, several commuters alighted and walked down to the other end of the bridge.
“My native place is at Chhapra and I work in a Patna shop. As usual, I took a bus from Mithapur bus stand early on Thursday morning for home. But it could not even reach Zero Mile, which is not even 5km from the bus stand. I sat inside the bus for around three hours. Thereafter, I alighted from the bus. Now, I would take another bus in the evening,” said Upendra Kumar, one of the harried commuters.
Truck drivers caught in the snarl also appeared helpless. “The stretch of the NH-30 from Fatuha to Anisabad was completely choked. I crossed Didarganj police station at 3am and reached Zero Mile — just 3km away — at 11am. I stopped my vehicle at Zero Mile as nothing seemed to be moving thereafter,” said Sanjay Kumar, a truck driver stuck in the snarl.
Traffic constables engaged in clearing the snarls were also a harried lot. “The situation was very bad throughout the night. But we managed to improve it in the morning and vehicles started moving from around 9am,” said a traffic cop.
On an average, over 25,000 heavy vehicles pass through the bridge daily. Several diversions on the bridge because of the ongoing repair work and absence of streetlights trigger jam on the Setu frequently, said a regular commuter.
“Single-lane traffic on four stretches on the bridge and absence of streetlights lead to frequent jams. The government must complete the bridge repair work fast,” said Pranav Kumar, a resident of Gardanibagh.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaj said: “I would talk to the SP (traffic) to find out some ways to stop frequent snarls. Measures would be taken to stop overtaking on the bridge.”