It’s day two. And there’s no respite from traffic jams in the city after all routes were diverted away from the 127-year-old Jagraon bridge that shut for four-wheelers. But it’s auto-rickshaw drivers who have benefited from the mess. They have doubled their rates in absence of any checking, leaving commuters harassed.
The bridge will remain closed for a year for repair.
The closing of the bridge has mainly affected commuters who travel to the city from the outskirts. Three-wheelers are charging Rs 20, instead of Rs 10, as minimum fare for dropping passengers off to Civil Lines, Bharat Nagar Chowk and the bus stand via other routes from the Lakkar bridge side.
Rickshaw pullers are also harried lot. They have to paddle an extra three kilometres to reach the Civil Lines area. Jagdish Kumar, a rickshaw puller, said commuters are now crossing the closed stretch of the bridge by foot to hail a three-wheeler from the other side, causing them losses in turn.
After railways built a wall on the closed stretch of the bridge, the municipal corporation also lodged a permanent blockade on Friday to stop four-wheelers bound towards Jagraon bridge.
Purshotam Lal, a three-wheeler driver, said they would charge Rs 10 as minimum fare for Bharat Nagar chowk and the bus stand. “We are now forced to cross the Lakkar Pul Railway Over Bridge to reach the Civil Lines area,” he said, adding, “so we are forced to increase minimum fares.”
Civil Lines resident Vineet Kalra said it was a relief for two-wheelers that the bridge is accessible to them but that the repair work should be completed as soon as possible because it affected the traffic flow of the whole city. He also suggested that authorities should depute people on diversion points to guide commuters.
Dugri resident Dhanveer Singh said the bridge was the lifeline of the city and connects it to old Ludhiana. “The move has affected most people. The traffic flow is severely affected. I covered two kilometres in 20 minutes today. The authorities should finish the repair work quickly,” he said.