Thursday 25 Jul 2024

Comba resolution crucial to Margao traffic plan

Closure of railway crossing for trains causes traffic congestion, hardships for students; Comba subway fails to meet growing requirements; CM promised road flyover finds no favour with Centre

GUILHERME ALMEIDA | JUNE 21, 2024, 12:36 AM IST


MARGAO
Can there be any meaningful resolution to the acute traffic tangle plaguing the commercial capital without addressing the snarls at the railway crossing in Comba – the city’s education hub, imparting education to thousands of students, from Kindergarten (KG) to Post-Graduation (PG)?

For, when the railway crossing is closed for vehicular traffic for the trains to run, traffic comes to a virtual halt or moves at a snail’s pace, causing traffic congestion, with the nearly decade-and-half-year-old Comba subway falling short of meeting the growing requirements having outlived its utility long ago.

And, with the road flyover at the Comba railway crossing, promised by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in the Legislative Assembly and outside, not finding favour with the Centre, with the Union Ministry of Surface Transport giving its nod for the Victor Hospital-La Flor Hotel flyover, it is projected that traffic is expected to increase by leaps and bounds in and around Comba in the near future.

Even assuming that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant puts his foot down to accord top-most priority to the Comba flyover over the Victor Hospital-La Flor Hotel flyover, sources say it will probably take more than two years to complete the project, implying that the citizens and student community will have to contend with the traffic woes for the next two years.

Sadly, the issues plaguing the Comba railway crossing did not receive the priority it deserved at the high-level meeting called by the South Goa Collector and attended by Margao MLA Digambar Kamat and officials, other than making a passing reference to the U-turn at the Comba underpass.

Plan for T-shaped flyover at Comba crossing finds no favour with Centre


Much before the Victor Hospital-La Flor Hotel flyover was accorded the green signal by the Union Surface Transport Ministry, PWD officials, led by then Executive Engineer Prasad Panadikar and his team, had drawn up a plan for a T-shaped flyover at the Comba railway crossing aimed at alleviating traffic congestion.

Even Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Margao MLA Digambar Kamat had supported the proposal to build a flyover at the Comba railway crossing on two counts. One, that traffic congestion at the railway crossing has reached unimaginable proportions and that traffic at the spot will aggravate further once the frequency of trains increase post double tracking.

Sadly, the Comba flyover has mysteriously not found favour with the Union Transport Ministry as well as the Goa government. Otherwise, how does one explain how come the Goa government is mum when the Centre has accorded approval for the Victor Hospital-La Flor Hotel flyover instead of the Comba flyover? Take note, it is feared that traffic at the Comba railway crossing will turn from bad to worse once the Victor Hospital-La Flor Hotel flyover is completed and commissioned since the traffic originating from Aquem will descend near the La Flor Hotel, just meters away from the Comba railway crossing.

Safety at risk: Students prefer crossing tracks to avoid reaching late to school

With the frequency of trains running on the tracks at an all-time high, the Comba railway crossing is indeed a major traffic bottleneck on the western half of the commercial capital. A visit to the railway crossing has shown how parents and children prefer to cross the tracks so as to avoid reaching late to schools when the crossing is closed for the trains.
A faculty member recalled how a girl student was killed at the railway crossing after she was pulled by the running train while she tried to cross the tracks. That, however, has not deterred parents and their wards from crossing the tracks when the crossing is closed for traffic.
“We are forced to cross the tracks even when the crossing is shut otherwise our wards reach the schools late. Sometimes, the railway gate is not opened for close to 10-15 minutes to facilitate a couple of trains to pass,” remarked a parent.

Students run the risk of being hit by vehicles in absence of footpath

Thousands of students run the risk of being hit by vehicles at Comba on the stretch of road between the railway crossing and the city schools. In fact, students were found walking right on the road for lack of a pedestrian footpath, and in the bargain running the risk of being hit by vehicles. Only recently, the open space near the gaddas was developed with pavers, but the road side drains are yet to be covered with slabs by the local authorities.
Increased frequency of trains
Information furnished by Konkan Railway senior official Baban Ghatge has revealed that around 68 trains run on the Margao tracks every day – including 52 passenger trains and 16 freight. This means that the Comba railway crossing is closed for traffic around 68 times in a day, causing traffic bottlenecks in an area, considered the commercial capital’s education hub. That’s not all. With the Indian Railways commissioning a large stretch of the double tracking project on the Goa section, railway officials in private say the frequency of trains, including freight will only increase in the coming days.

Citizens, institutions cry foul over kiosks near rail crossing

Citizens as well as faculty members of the educational institutions cry foul over the presence of couple of kiosks right adjoining the Comba railway crossing, further aggravating traffic at the spot. Sadly, neither the removal of the the gaddas, including the Horticulture Corporation kiosk and a fruit juice centre, nor their relocation figured at the traffic safety meeting, leaving even officials to wonder why the Margao Municipal Council and the PWD, Roads are dragging their feet to remove the kiosks at the railway crossing.
Questions are indeed raised in official circles whether the authorities can ease traffic congestion at the railway crossing without removing and relocating the gaddas in the road widening area. Sources say PWD officials should explain to Madgavkars the reason behind developing cold feet in removing the kiosks after issuing the show cause notices.
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