In a move to ease congestion on the Western Express Highway (WEH) during evening peak hours, the traffic police have banned heavy vehicles from plying on the north-bound stretch from Bandra to Dahisar between 5pm and 9pm. While the ban is a temporary move, till the police come up with a permanent solution, it was put into effect from Monday by invoking an old government circular on restriction of heavy vehicles on highways within the city limits.
The ban will be for trucks, lorries, water tankers, container carriers as well as private buses. However, ST/BEST buses, school buses and vehicles carrying essential commodities and chartered buses – used as office drops – will be allowed to use the highway.
Massive traffic snarls on the WEH have become a common sight ever since work on the Metro-7 (Dahisar to Andheri) project began earlier this year. The situation, according to officials, has worsened after the rains arrived.
While the police have enforced the north-bound traffic restrictions in the evening on a priority basis, they plan to soon bring in a similar four-hour ban on the south-bound stretch during morning peak hours.
Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of police, traffic, told HT that the north-bound heavy vehicles will be stopped at the Kalanagar junction in Bandra (East) and diverted to the Eastern Express Highway via Sion. “They can continue their journey using the Thane-Ghdobunder Road,” said Kumar. “We are in the process of notifying a comprehensive strategy for the movement of heavy vehicles in the city.”
Explaining the logic behind enforcing the ban first only during evening peak hours, a source said that while regular motorists travelling from the western suburbs to south Mumbai used the highway at different points of time during the morning, the situation is different during the evening. Almost 80% of these regulars are on the highway between 5pm and 6pm and that creates unprecedented rush.
Meanwhile, Kumar said discussions are on with the Thane police to enforce a similar four-hour ban on the entry of heavy vehicles into the city in the morning. “As per our plans, heavy vehicles will not be allowed from the Dahisar toll plaza during 7am and 11am,” said Kumar, adding that a decision is likely to taken within a week’s time. “That will ease the flow of south-bound traffic in the morning.”
However, since thousands of heavy vehicles from nearby states enter the city through the Dahisar check naka on a daily basis, blocking them for four hours in the morning could create jams on the highway beyond Dahisar. “We are aware of the problem. Arrangements will be made to either divert them to Thane, so that they can enter the city through Mulund by using the Eastern Express Highway, or some alternative parking arrangements would be made at Mira-Bhayandar,” Kumar said.