Mumbai: Traffic snarls reported across the city as offices in MMR open partially

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Mumbai: Vehicular traffic flow saw an uptick on Monday morning, as offices in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) reopened after almost three months amid the Maharashtra government’s third phase of Mission Begin Again campaign.

The offices were shut in the MMR because of the lockdown restrictions, which were enforced since mid-March to contain the spread of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

Suburban train services -- Mumbai’s public transport lifeline -- are yet to resume their operations, and their absence could be felt on Monday morning, as many office-goers were left with no option but to use private vehicles to reach their workplaces.

Besides office-goers, traders and shopkeepers are also back on roads.

The first day of the gradual opening up led to an increased traffic movement on the Western Express Highway (WEH), a major north-south arterial road in Mumbai connecting suburban Dahisar with Bandra, and many commuters took to Twitter to appeal for the opening of flyovers on the busy stretch.

Slow-moving traffic was reported in certain stretches of the WEH.

“Kherwadi Bandra flyover needs to be opened, a hell lot of traffic at the junction towards Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and south Mumbai,” a commuter tweeted.

A commuter travelling on WEH tweeted while tagging the Mumbai Police: “Guys entire Western Express Highway’s northbound is free-flowing, but for the bridge at Vile Parle Domestic Airport shut ... For no reason! Jam created !!! Mumbai Traffic Police please look into our inconvenience!”

Another commuter tweeted: “As Mumbaikars hit the roads again, it’s time to wish us luck for a new start to this new world. But, unfortunately, our traffic remains the same.”

Traffic snarls were also reported in certain stretches of the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) --- a north-south artery of Mumbai that connects its eastern suburbs and Thane -- Sion-Panvel highway, Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Road and Swami Vivekanand (SV) Road.

Toll plazas at Mulund, Vashi, and Dahisar reported major traffic congestion even though the government has been encouraging the use of FASTag, an electronic and automated toll collection mechanism.

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) authorities also resumed their bus services from Monday to facilitate office-goers’ commute to work. Around 2,000 BEST buses are expected on the roads amid adherence to social distancing norms.

The civic authorities have stipulated that only 30 passengers are allowed to board a BEST bus, including 25 sitting and five standing. A passenger each is being allowed to sit on the left and right side of a BEST bus.

However, social distancing norms were violated at several places on Monday morning because more people took to the streets than the number of public transport at their disposal.

The state government has undertaken a staggered plan from Monday onwards to unlock Maharashtra and has allowed private offices to operate with 10% of strength or 10 employees, whichever is more, and the rest of the staff to work from home.

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