GANGTOK, August 13, 2013
Deepika Chettri almost missed her flight at Bagdogra airport yesterday after she was stuck in the traffic jam along the National Highway for almost two hours.
The 19-year-old had a flight scheduled at 2:20 p.m. but the vehicle convoy along the highway was so slow that she panicked all the way. She had boarded a bus at 5 a.m. from Gangtok.
“Luckily, I managed to reach the airport as I took a reserve vehicle as soon as I reached SNT bus terminus in Siliguri. The airport authorities let me in but the journey which I took from Gangtok to Siliguri was pitiable,” Deepika said after reaching Kolkata.
Like Deepika, there are many others who are facing problems while travelling from Gangtok to Siliguri and vice-versa.
“Little did I know that the journey would be so troublesome, I took a bus from Gangtok which halted at Rangpo checkpost and the convoy left at around 9 a.m.” said the second year student of Lady Braboune College, Kolkata.
Gangtok resident Raman Tamang said he never remembers a day travelling almost seven hours from Siliguri-Gangtok.
The normal timing to reach Gangtok from Siliguri is four hours. “The vehicles in the convoy was simply crawling, the SNT bus which I had boarded must have stopped over a dozen times on the highway due to the long traffic jam,” said Tamang after reaching Gangtok yesterday afternoon.
All the Siliguri-Sikkim-Siliguri bound vehicles are moving under a West Bengal police protection due to the indefinite bandh called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling Hills.
“All the shops in the highway which falls under the West Bengal jurisdiction were closed and moreover the vehicle did not stop anywhere. I would advise others to carry adequate water and snacks so that they might feel hungry as I did half the way,” said Priya Rai, a resident of Ranipool in East Sikkim.
On normal occasions, the stopovers for vehicles for the refreshment were at Melli, Kirney and Tar Khola (all under West Bengal).
However, business at the border town of Rangpo has increased after the bandh called by the Morcha.
“We can’t deny the fact that the business is going good at Rangpo. It being the first stopover from Siliguri people do flock to the food joints for refreshments and water,” said Ram Prasad, a fast food owner at Rangpo.
A police officer at Rangpo checkpost added that managing traffic has become another major problem for the police.
“After the bandh has been called, the traffic at Rangpo has increased almost three times in comparison to normal days, however we have pressed more number of police force in controlling the traffic chaos,” said a senior police officer.
(Courtesy: Sikkim Express)
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