In 1977, Mumbai's planners had a vision to develop Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) — a business hub in the suburbs that was better planned than congested south Mumbai, the city’s original hunting ground for thriving businesses. More than thirty years later, the plan has been realised, but not entirely. As well-planned as it is on the inside, BKC remains isolated from the rest of the city because of poor connectivity.
BKC was developed by reclaiming marshy lands alongside Mithi River, Vakola Nallah and Mahim creek in the early 1990s. Over two lakh people work there in commercial and government establishments.
Its proximity to the airport has lured several banks, companies, and foreign consulates to set up offices in BKC. After them came the five-star hotels, restaurants and coffee shops. Unfortunately, even with the big names in the area — developed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the planning and execution body for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region — BKC’s connectivity with the rest of the city remains a major issue.
Even though the drive within BKC is smooth with wide and well-maintained roads, getting into the area during morning peak hours and exiting it during evening peak hours is a major headache. The approach roads to BKC at Bandra, Sion and Kurla are congested because of traffic jams, encroachments and poor quality of roads. It is equally tedious or maybe worse for those who take public transport in the form of a bus, autorickshaw and taxi.
An executive of a firm said they started a private bus service for staffers recently, but most get down from the bus and walk to the station because of the traffic.
Narrow, chaotic and crowded roads leading to railway stations, traffic jams at LBS junction and BKC road, congestion at Kalanagar junction and encroachments on LBS road and Santacruz-Chembur Link Road slows down traffic to a crawl.
“It takes me 30 minutes to reach Kurla from Dombivli,” said Mangesh Dhalkar, a supervisor working at Naman Center. “But it takes up to 45 minutes to reach BKC from there by bus or autorickshaw.”
The best way to reach the business hub is by bus, autorickshaw or taxi, but none of these are available during rush hour.
“People have to stand in the middle of the road to catch a bus or autorickshaw in the evening,” said Sameer Mehta, a banker. Daniel Rodricks, an executive with a private firm, said autorickshaw drivers are reluctant to go to either Bandra or Kurla station, while share-an-auto drivers charge double the fixed fare.
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking operates double-decker buses between Bandra and Kurla stations, but the number of services isn’t enough and frequency is also an issue. “Buses are packed with passengers, hence drivers skip stops,” said Prithviraj Parab, who works with a private firm.
Motorists complain parking blocks don’t have enough capacity to accommodate all the vehicles, forcing many to park their cars on the road. Many who work here also feel unsafe walking on the roads after dark.