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Why India’s widest highway is getting choked at night

Every night, commuters traveling on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway are facing a common frustration: the lack of space to drive on what is supposed to be India’s widest expressway. This inconvenience occurs between 9 pm and 11 pm when Delhi-bound travelers encounter blocked or constricted paths due to a line-up of trucks and smaller goods carriers near the toll plaza at the UP Gate (Ghazipur) border, a TOI report stated.

These trucks, parked along the flyover extending up to the Khoda underpass, and sometimes even farther, significantly impede traffic flow. The expressway, boasting three lanes, and NH-9 adjacent to it with four lanes, witnesses trucks occupying at least half of the available lane width, causing congestion. Although this queue of parked trucks gradually disperses by midnight, a new one forms at dawn, exacerbating the issue.

The reason behind this nightly ordeal stems from the restrictions imposed on commercial goods vehicles’ entry into Delhi. These vehicles are prohibited from entering the capital between 7 am to 11 am and 5 pm to 11 pm. Consequently, trucks and other goods carriers arriving early resort to parking on the expressway before reaching the border, utilizing the waiting time for dinner or rest. Lacking intervention from authorities like the police or the National Highways Authority of India, this practice has become entrenched over months.

Mohammad Akhtar, transporting gym equipment to Delhi, shared his routine of waiting for the no-entry restriction to lift before proceeding. Similarly, Ajay Yadav expressed reluctance to risk entering Delhi before 11 pm to avoid substantial penalties. This predicament extends beyond goods vehicles, as trucks loaded with passengers, including women and children, also queue up at the border, awaiting clearance to enter Delhi.

Acknowledging the issue, representatives from truck associations admitted that truck parking contributes to congestion and jams on the expressway. They cited factors such as varying arrival times due to uncertainties like delays and jams along the route. However, they expressed intentions to urge truck drivers to avoid reaching the border during no-entry hours.

While NHAI project director Dheeraj Singh emphasized the need for enforcement by traffic police, jurisdictional issues complicate the resolution process. Ghaziabad police, responsible for the affected stretch of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, are tasked with ensuring traffic flow. Yet, the encroachment problem persists, exacerbated by vendors setting up shops and auto stands occupying thoroughfare space.

Despite the convergence of jurisdiction between Delhi and Ghaziabad police at the UP Gate area, effective intervention to clear choke points remains lacking. Additional DCP (traffic) Ghaziabad Virendra Kumar acknowledged the issue and pledged suitable measures to alleviate the situation.

The plight of commuters on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway underscores the urgent need for coordinated efforts from authorities to address truck congestion and encroachments, ensuring smoother travel experiences for all.

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