Sudhakar Shetty waits patiently every morning for his staff to troop in to work.
His printing and packaging unit located on Mahakali Road, Andheri (East) is barely 10 minutes away from the station. But his staffers take at least 45 minutes to reach because of traffic.
“All my workers walk in late. They are tired even before the day begins and this affects productivity,” said Shetty. “The queue for a BEST bus from the station begins at the foot-over-bridge above the tracks. Skywalks have sprung across the city but in Andheri East, where a skywalk is most needed, there is no sign of one.”
As Andheri (East) is a hub of commercial enterprise with industrial estates like Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation and SEEPZ but its infrastructure is crumbling.
It houses some of the city’s finest hotels but the roads leading to them are perennially dug. The Mathuradas Vasanji Road, better known as Andheri-Kurla Road is the constituency’s central vein. It goes through Chakala, MIDC and the airport and as far as residents can remember, is constantly dug up. Either it is for widening, repairs or the latest reason the metro. The vehicle population, unauthorised hawkers, and the metro have made the road a commuter’s nightmare.
“The whole world has created metros,” said Shetty’s colleague, Ganesh Kumar. “Abroad, the roads are systematically barricaded to allow traffic to flow smoothly. But here, we pay through our noses for fancy air-conditioned offices but the commute undoes it all.”
Sitting MLA Suresh Shetty, says a skywalk is on its way. He said he got the Rs 84-crore MIDC road concretising project done and widened the Andheri-Kurla road. “About two-thirds of the road is blocked because of the metro. This inconvenience is only for a year,” said the 54-year-old MLA. “Vehicle population is increasing. The Andheri-Kurla road is the busiest in Mumbai and most buses ply on it. Work on the skywalk from the station to SEEPZ will begin in a few months.”
This has ensured that Abhirup Sarkar (20) does not live with his parents. A student of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, Sarkar thought he could continue living with his parents in Bandra. “After a few days of commuting on the polluted and crowded road, I realised that I would fall ill if I did it everyday,” said Sarkar. “I took up hostel accommodation and now visit my parents like I live out of town.”