Chaos, theft, accident: All is not well with Delhi’s ‘smart’ eastern expressway
Confused truckers, long queues and lack of signages were some of the issues Hindustan Times spotted while taking a ride down the Eastern Peripheral Expressway .Updated: Jun 07, 2018 10:01 IST
The Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), inaugurated 10 days ago, may be the country’s first ‘smart highway’ but not everything is smooth on the 135km road. Hindustan Times took a ride down the expressway for a spot check on Monday night.
Of the eight major entry points to the expressway, which was built to help non-destined vehicles and polluting trucks bypass the national Capital, the HT team visited three entry points — Dasna, Muradnagar and Dadri.
The HT team reached the Delhi-Muradnagar entry point— around 25km from the city’s borders — at 10pm.
The first thing the team spotted was trucks standing in a queue around loops on the Meerut Road, trying to figure a way to get on to the expressway.
With no traffic police personnel or “ample” signage, most of the truckers said getting on to the bypass was proving to be a nightmare. As more trucks joined the queue, chaos ensued.
Huge container trucks reversed to try and make U-turns, leading to chaos.
Everything seemed well at the Baghpat entry, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 27. But on the loop leading towards Palwal on the Delhi-Meerut highway, truckers were confused if the road was even operational.
At 10.45pm, Shehzad, a trucker coming from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, said he was confused about what road to take to reach Palwal.
The loop, which pointed towards Palwal, had obstructions, blocking half the carriageway. “I don’t know how to get on to the expressway. There is no one to assist us. It seems like the road has been inaugurated in a haste, with work on the connecting road left half complete,” he said.
Even after getting onto the road, the problems for the commuters did not end. At 11.05pm, truckers were spotted driving on the wrong side as the exit towards Dasna was closed “for construction”.
Traffic and chaos
Between 10pm and 3am, not a single traffic official or guard, as promised by authorities for manning traffic or guiding the truckers on to the loops, was spotted.
On NH-24, trucks stood in a line, honking at each other. A police booth was spotted merely metres away from the chaos, but there was no one to clear the traffic.
The Ghaziabad Police claimed they had made sufficient traffic arrangements.
“We had deployed four traffic police personnel on each of the two interchanges (Duhai and Dasna) for traffic moving to the EPE. Their work is supervised by a traffic sub-inspector. We have also asked the police control room vans to remain stationed at the interchanges. Once the toll starts on June 15, the local police stations will be asked to deploy police control room vans to ensure regular flow of traffic,” said SN Singh, superintendent of police (traffic), Ghaziabad.
On the expressway at 12.25pm, Raju, a trucker, walked to us and asked directions to Moradabad. He had to take the exit towards Dasna on NH-24.
“I am coming from Karnal and need to reach Moradabad. The new route is confusing. I did not find any personnel to ask for directions,” he said.
The lack of ample lighting in many sections has also turned the 135km-road into a safety hazard.
On Tuesday, seven members of a family were killed and nine others were injured in an accident on the expressway at Palwal.
Many drivers complained that the lack of ample street lights on the stretch made driving a difficult feat on the new route.
Since several sections are still under construction, drivers run the risk of running into cement boulders that have been used instead of barricades with reflectors warning them of the road being blocked.
Senior officials of the National Highways Authority of India told HT that merely a week after the inauguration of the road, solar panels—that will power street lights on the EPE—installed in certain pockets were stolen.
Not just this, to make things worse, even the backup generators were reportedly stolen from areas.
Officials said to prevent such thefts they would be improving security around these fixtures and enhance fencing.