Bengaluru grappled with a daunting traffic situation on Wednesday as a perfect storm of events converged ahead of an extended weekend. The city, already known for its traffic woes, found itself in a gridlock exacerbated by the impending long weekend and a bandh (strike) called by farmer organizations protesting the release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu.
The evening rush hour between 5 pm and 8 pm saw an unexpected surge in traffic volume as office-goers tried to navigate their way home. This sudden surge was partly attributed to the five-day weekend that had begun, starting with the celebration of Eid Milad-Un Nabi on the same day. The following days would witness a Karnataka bandh in protest of the Cauvery water dispute, and the weekend was capped off by Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, a national holiday, NDTV reported.
Traffic authorities in Bengaluru were left grappling with an unprecedented situation as congestion choked the Outer Ring Road (ORR) and its environs. The traffic count on this fateful Wednesday ballooned to an astonishing 3.5 lakh vehicles by 7:30 pm, a stark contrast to the typical count of 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh vehicles on a usual Wednesday.
The ORR bore the brunt of this traffic chaos, with citizens enduring over four hours of frustrating standstill. Schoolchildren were among the worst affected, with some not reaching home until late into the night. Frustration and anger boiled over as citizens took to social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter) to vent their grievances, as reported by Business Today.
Prominent figures, including former Infosys board member Mohandas Pai, directed their ire at the state government, questioning the effectiveness of traffic management and infrastructure planning. The Joint Commissioner of Traffic issued a statement outlining the factors contributing to the traffic nightmare, but for many residents, it was seen as an inadequate response to their ordeal.
Commuters shared stories of their harrowing experiences, with one resident suggesting that companies mandating 100 percent in-office work should reconsider their stance and give employees a respite from Bengaluru's traffic woes. Another frustrated individual lamented the impact of rampant urban growth and implored companies to think twice about setting up shop in the midst of such traffic chaos.
Adding to the misery, heavy rains further exacerbated the situation by causing waterlogging on interior roads, compounding the traffic snarls across various parts of the city.