City grinds to a halt as Rly motormen go on strike

City grinds to a halt as Rly motormen go on strike

Navi Mumbai has Asia’s largest industrial belt, the Thane-Belapur industrial area having more than 3,000 small, medium and large industries and more than 1,00,000 workers are employed in them. Moreover, Navi Mumbai has more than 50,000 shops and offices having manpower of more than 3,00,000. Around 60 per cent of them travel by trains.
According to a socio-economic survey conducted by CIDCO in 2005, nearly 36 per cent of the city’s working population goes to work to Mumbai and 60 per cent works in Navi Mumbai itself. Of them 33 per cent travel by trains, 16 per cent by NMMT buses, 15 per cent walk it to their workplaces and the rest use other means of transport. The strike increased the load on buses of BEST, NMMT and ST.
As the strike was announced in Mumbai in evening, its spiral effect began to be felt by Navi Mumbaikars only around 9 pm. All of a sudden, trains moving from Panvel to CST got late by more than half an hour and finally after halting for equal time at Vashi railway station, they were sent back to Panvel around 10 pm.
Meenakshi, a daily commuter recalls the scene that day, “Like a movie scene, hundreds of people moved outside Vashi railway station pushing each other as if a bomb had been found.We women were so frightened as no policemen were around to man the mass of people. Buses coming from Panvel, CBD, Nerul etc were all overloaded and it took more than half an hour for the BEST bus I boarded to reach Vashi Plaza from Vashi bus depot and one and half hours more to reach Sion”.
A youth Ajinkya Lagade took two of his friends from Vashi to Ghatkopar on his motorcycle and like him many others were seen helping out stranded commuters reach their destination. He recalls, “There was a sudden announcement around 9.30 pm at Vashi Railway that the trains moving towards CST and Panvel are cancelled. A huge crowd already waiting at the railway station started moving towards Vashi-Mumbai bridge. Commuters were seen pleading with taxi and auto rickshaw drivers for help, but all in vain. Buses were running jampacked and people were even sitting on bus roofs”.

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