Anantnag: The traffic mess on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Qazigund has become a concern for the truckers who allege that the apples laden in their vehicles for export are getting rotten.
The truckers alleged that their vehicles are made to halt for several hours and at times for days at the toll plaza set up ahead of Qazigund-Banihal tunnel.
“We expected the tunnel thrown open recently would end our woes vis-à-vis the traffic mess to a great extent, but it has worsened the situation. It takes us days to reach Jammu via NH44,” Rayees Ahmad, a trucker, stuck at the toll plaza Qazigund for the last two days told Greater Kashmir.
The fruit-laden trucks bear the major brunt of this traffic halt. “The fruit should reach the destination without any delay but it takes us days together due to which we are incurring losses,” another trucker Ishfaq Ahmad who is carrying a stock of apples outside Kashmir, said.
He said that last year when they were using the old Jawahar tunnel, things were better. “The travel time instead of reducing has significantly gone up,” Ahmad said.
The truckers said that taking up journey via Mughal road was a better option for them to reach Jammu as they don’t have to face such halts. “I have been in touch with my co-truckers who left from here the same day as we. Since they went via Mughal route, they have already reached their destinations,” said Rafiq Khatana, a truck driver carrying fruits.
The cab drivers and commuters also complained that they have to undergo long halts near the toll plaza.
“Once we cross the tunnel to reach Qazigund we have to wait for long at the toll plaza and plenty of our time gets wasted,” a cab driver Mushtaq Ahmad, said.
He said the tourists also face a lot of inconveniences.
The commuters said that the stretch of road ahead of Qazigund toll plaza is also in bad shape leading to frequent traffic jams.
An official accused the NHAI of flouting the rules. “After the toll plazas were equipped with FASTag it becomes necessary that a vehicle should pass a toll plaza within three minutes time but it takes hours here,” he said.