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After panic, city roads near deserted as anxious people rush home early
State-run buses, autorickshaws and taxies stayed off the road, which took a toll on the office goers who were trying to return home in the late evening.
When Kauvery Hospital sent out a statement around 4.30 pm on Tuesday announcing a “significant decline” in the condition of former Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, traffic congestion ensued in various parts of the city, with the anxious people scurrying to get home before the inevitable was announced. Soon afterwards, the roads wore a deserted look as the developments hit public transport in the city.
State-run buses, autorickshaws and taxies stayed off the road, which took a toll on the office goers who were trying to return home in the late evening. The fate was same for college students, too.
Taxi aggregators allegedly cancelled bookings after the news spread, while the autorickshaws that plied despite the risk demanded much higher than usual. Some, like Shreeya Jayaraman, senior manager-strategic initiatives for a city-based company, said that all the office-goers were anxious to reach home.
Shreeya, who works in Nungambakkam, couldn’t find a way to get to her home in Harrington Road. “Usually, it is a 10-minute cab ride. But due to absence of transportation options, I walked all the way home,” she added. Nungambakkam, Alwarpet and many other parts of the city were choked with traffic.
R Gowri Shankar, a resident of Ayanavaram, was caught in traffic near Koyambedu. “There were many people on their way to pay their last respects to the stalwart,” he added.
When Balaji Vijayaraghavan, a digital marketing specialist, went down to get a coffee at 5:00 pm at his office in Nandanam, he was surprised to see the gate locked up already.
“Usually, it is busy till 8 pm but on Tuesday, gates were closed by 5:00 pm. That was when we knew that the announcement could come anytime,” said the aspiring stand-up comic. He added that following the announcement at 4:00 pm, there was traffic congestion at Anna Salai. “Road discipline had gone for a toss completely. Getting into the smaller roads, too, was challenging for commuters. All those busy shops and restaurants were closed, too,” he said.
Traffic congestion was reported at various places including T Nagar, Mylapore, Parrys Corner, Saidapet and Nandanam within the city limits, besides important places in the suburbs including Pallavaram, Chromepet, Tambaram, Mudichur, Porur and Ambattur.
Many who booked train tickets to southern districts had to struggle to reach Egmore station on time due to poor transport services in the city. However, suburban trains and Metro rail remained unaffected.
But after the announcement of demise later in the evening, most of the city was deserted, as shops downed shutters early on. K Devika, a city-based analyst, said she got lucky to reach home before the cab services were suspended.
“It was pretty desolate along the roads of T Nagar as I made my way from my office in Guindy to my house near Pondy Bazaar. I was lucky to get a cab, before the drivers started cancelling on all the customers,” she added.
“Most of the shops had downed their shutters in the early evening itself, anticipating the development,” added Gowri Shankar. The usually-busy R K Salai too was deserted in the evening, like many other parts of the city.