Srinagar: Commuters faced a tough time on Monday due to massive traffic jams in various areas of the city. The city street vendors also continue to occupy roads leading to chaos and congestion.

Traffic came to a grinding halt at city centre areas including Jehangir Chowk, Budshah Chowk, Batmaloo, Residency Road, Regal Chowk, TRC, Polo View and Ram Bagh Bridge— causing inconvenience to commuters.

The problem was compounded by absence of traffic cops at vital intersections and wrong parking of vehicles.

“It took me around 15 minutes to cross the Budshah Bridge due to traffic jam. This shows the failure of traffic cops to regulate the traffic?” rued Bilal Ahmad, a commuter.

“The concerned authorities are acting as mute spectators to traffic jams. They only hold meetings and formulate traffic plans. Ironically, these are never implemented on the ground,” a group of aggrieved commuters stranded near Batmalloo told this KNS reporter.

Though the Traffic authorities have prohibited parking on roadsides especially at busy Residency Road, however in absence of regulation, commuters continue to violate the directive.“Parking on roadsides in city centre is not viable due to heavy rush of vehicles,” said Adil Hamid, a commuter.

At several places, haphazard parking of vehicles hampers traffic movement. “Some shopkeepers even park their vehicles in markets. This also leads to traffic jams and causes inconvenience to us. It is high time that the concerned authorities wake up from slumber and restore traffic system,” said Hilal Ahmad of Dalgate.

A group of employees said the “defunct” traffic system has put their jobs at stake as they fail to reach their respective offices on time. “During peak hours, the traffic authorities usually put off the traffic signals. This worsens the traffic mess,” they said.

Commuters, presently are following traffic diversion pan which was enforced after closure of Jahangir Chowk-Rambagh road to facilitate construction of the Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh flyover.Closure of the vital link road has increased traffic jams in various areas of the city.

As per the diversion plan, the movement of traffic is allowed only one way on various vital roads including Batamaloo, Karan Nagar link road and Jawahar Nagar.The traffic cops have erected barricades on various roads to enforce the diversion plan.

Several ambulances often get stuck on various roads, putting the lives of patients at risk. The traffic cops on duty at various places were busy in paving way for the VIPs and their cavalcades.“Do only VIPs have right to travel on roads. We are not allowed to move even an inch and traffic cops are busy in making way for VIPs,” said a group of commuters at Lalchock who were stuck in traffic jam.

Meanwhile the Srinagar Municipal authorities have forgotten the face of the city where street vendors continue to occupy roads leading to chaos and congestion.

Most of the vendors have occupied roads and footpaths in Amira Kadal and Koker Bazaar. The footpaths meant for pedestrians have been occupied by vendors creating traffic chaos on the bridge, which is the way for many local buses,” said a pedestrian.

The problem though is existent in the main part of the commercial hub, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) problem has done nothing concrete so far.

People alleged that these street vendors have become source of nuisance for tourists and locals in every nook and corner of Kashmir.

The street vendors are also seen occupying footpaths in, Boulevard and Dalgate, Lal Ded Hospital road, Hari Singh High Street, Batamaloo and all other major districts of Kashmir valley.

“Due to presence of these street vendors we face problems to walk on the roads. This poses risk of accidents,” said a pedestrian Mohmmad Aslam and added that it is an open fact that these vendors carry their business either on the behest of politicians or police.

“It will take you just five minutes from Bataloo to Amira Kadal by any vehicle or bike if the road is vendors free and for the same distance you have to waste more than 40 minutes and this is all because of these street vendors” Khalid a govt employee told KNS.

With footpath vendors occupying space on the streets, the vehicles could be seen struggling to move and pedestrians craving for a smooth walk, especially at some of the cities crowded places like Residency road, Amira Kadal, Goni Khan, Hari Singh High Street and Batamaloo.

In many places of the city footpaths do not technically exist, as they are either too narrow for people to walk on, or have been encroached by hawkers, forcing pedestrians onto the roads.

“To travel short distances, it takes hours to reach the destination as vendors have extended their carts on roads. Which results in frequent traffic jams and the bus runs at a snail’s pace,” said Imran Ahmad of Rajbagh.

“There is hardly any space left for people to move on the Amira Kadal Bridge as most of the bridge is occupied by vendors and fishermen, I had to travel to Batamaloo via Residency road and it took me an hour to cross the Amira Kadal Bridge. They (street vendors) should be removed from the pavements to ensure smooth movement of traffic and pedestrians safety,” said Aliya a college student.

The illegal occupiers maintain good liaison with some politically influential people to run their businesses on the footpaths. “It is an hours job for the police to free these foothpaths and roads from vendors, but they feel pressure at the top,” RTI activist Umar Javaid said.

The vendors said that they are aware about the problems that pedestrians face but, “we have no other option. We know we are doing business on public place illegally, but this is the only way for income through which we are feeding our families”. (KNS)