Plazas defy govt fiat, commuters tolled
Plazas defy govt fiat, commuters tolled

Hyderabad: Defying Telangana and AP governments’ instructions of waiver of toll charges on Sunday and January 16, in view of heavy traffic during Sankranthi festivities, the toll plaza managements collected toll from commuters on national highways in the two Telugu states.

As a result, the commuters were at the receiving end as they would have to wait for hours to reach their destinations with the serpentine queues at toll plazas.  

The two governments on Saturday issued instructions waiving charges at the toll plazas on national highways to and fro from Hyderabad on January 13 (Sunday)  and January 16, a day before and a day after the three-day festival.

The commuters felt the government’s decision will  provide relief to thousands of families travelling to their native towns and villages in Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. 

People also expected the waiver of toll will ease traffic jams seen at the toll gates on Hyderabad-Vijayawada, Vijayawada- Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad-Warangal and other highways in the two states.

But in reality, the passengers faced nightmarish experiences at the toll plazas. When the vehicles reached toll gates,  the staff stopped the commuters and insisted on payment of the tax as they did not receive any official communication from the state governments or the National Highway authorities about the waiver of toll tax.

Commuters were seen making strong arguments with toll plaza staff by showing the newspaper clippings to them that both the governments had waived off the toll charges. The staff did not relent and demanded payment of toll fee. All the toll centres were crowded with vehicles since morning and thousands of vehicles were stayed in queues for kilometres. At Pantangi toll gate on Hyderabad-Vijayawada national highway, traffic jam occurred for hours and vehicles stranded on a stretch of more than 6 km.  

When toll plaza staff and commuters argued with each other and tension created at toll plazas, police entered the scene and communicated the information with their higher officials. They immediately contacted with the District Collector and toll plaza managements were informed about the instructions. With the intervention of the officials, the staff relented and stopped collecting fee from afternoon. Similar scenes were witnessed at Keesara, Jadcherla, Pottipadu, Chillakallu and Kaza toll plazas in both the Telugu states.   

At Jadcherla toll plaza, they have collected charges at some counters and at some counters they left the vehicles without charging. That decision by the toll plaza staff created even more confusion and heavy traffic jam occurred. The commuters started arguing with the staff which led to tension. Even till evening hours, the toll plaza staff collected the charges by violating the government instructions.

By M Yanadi Reddy  

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