Commuters hassled, vehicles caught in snarl-up at Mumbai toll plazas

Mumbai, Dec 3 (IANS) Long queues of vehicles at toll plazas, some several km long, returned to haunt hassled commuters on Saturday as the collection of toll tax was resumed from December 2 midnight.

Caught in the traffic snarl, office-goers, students and passengers rushing to catch long-distance trains or flights here were delayed.

The serpentine queues of both big and small passenger and commercial vehicles were witnessed at all the five toll plazas at the entry and exit points to Mumbai, in the absence of smaller denomination notes and inadequate arrangements for cashless toll collection.

Most toll plazas refused to accept new Rs 2,000 notes, the maximum in circulation after demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 on November 8, as no notes of smaller denomination notes were not available. Many commuters refused to accept coupons in lieu.

The problem was compounded as toll plazas have been barred from accepting old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and the government said coupons would be issued to tide over the change crisis.

This led to bitter arguments between toll collection staff and vehicle owners, leading to further delays, longer queues and frayed tempers.

The worst situation was seen at Vashi and Dahisar toll plazas, besides other toll collection points on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Agra, Mumbai-Nagpur and other toll roads.

Mumbai alone has five entry points at Dahisar, Mulund, Thane, Airoli and Vashi, managed by MEP Infrastructure Developers Ltd. from where several thousands of vehicles enter or exit the metropolis.

Many local commuters complained that they were delayed by several hours in reaching their places of work. Some passengers griped they missed their flights or long-distance trains while students said they were delayed for classes as well as internal exams.

“I had an important meeting lined up at 11 a.m., but am waiting at the toll plaza for over two hours. Now, the meeting will have to be rescheduled,” said MNC executive M. Risha from Kandivali, who was driving to work in Thane.

Toll collection was waived for various periods extended from time to time since demonetisation, that is, from November 9-11, 11-14, 14-18, 18-24 and finally between November 24 and December 2 in view of shortage of new currency and change.

–IANS

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