If you are Malaysian and have been reading or listening to the news yesterday, you would know what I am talking about. Yesterday morning, I was caught in the mother of all traffic jams, the worst ever traffic jam in Penang’s history.
It all started when I received an email with these attached last Friday. I believe most of the people working in factories in Bayan Lepas got these too.
So what transpired yesterday was: It took me two and a half hours to get from my home’s car park to the office’s car park (7.30 AM – 10.00 AM), because I had to drive a distance of 7.5 kilometers at an average speed of 3 kilometers per hour. And to rub salt into the would, I also took nearly 2 hours to arrive home after work (6.15 PM – 8.00PM).
You know we are building a flyover to enable the Second Penang Bridge to bypass the industrial zones, and they had to close down the coastal highway (Tun Lim Chong Eu Expressway) section by section to do that. Basically what happened yesterday was, they closed down a crucial part of the highway and created a traffic diversion plan to direct cars to alternative routes. They even used a fancy term for it, the “Tidal Flow” system, whatever the fuck that means.
There are probably a million different reasons as to why the gridlock yesterday happened: which intersection screwed up, short of XXX number of traffic police to direct traffic, yadda yadda… but I think the simplest explanation is: they are trying to direct a traffic of approximately 8000 cars/hour into roads that can only deal with 4000 cars/hour. What else did you expect to happen, if not a total gridlock of cars?
The Chief Minister said he was displeased with this unprecedented crisis, well me and probably tens of thousands of motorists, while we were in our cars, we were downright pissed! Especially as yesterday was supposed to be just the beginning of what was expected to go on for 5-6 months. To make matters worse, the authorities had the nerve to claim this gridlock is due to us not being familiar with the new routes, rather than own up that they fucked up in their traffic diversion plan.
This is extremely frustrating, especially to me. You know, I hate shit traffic. The ONLY reason I escaped from KL to Penang is because I don’t want to deal with shit traffic. And now I am expected to deal with traffic that is even shittier than KL traffic for half a year…
I actually wrote all these yesterday, but they are sort of moot now, you’ll see:
Which brings us to this… You know I make a new blog post daily. Basically I allocate 30 minutes, maybe 1 hour max for the blog every day. This is perfectly manageable for me, as it still leaves me with 3 to 4 hours to work on other stuff, stuff that brings in extra moolah for me. The problem is, any time now (I don’t know when), the authorities might close the roads and cause the mother of all traffic jams to occur again on a frequent basis. When that happens, I would have to spend an additional 3 to 4 hours daily to get caught in shit traffic jams instead of doing something productive. I have to arrive home later than usual, and I have to sleep earlier because I have to wake up earlier the next day due to the longer commute time to work. Some companies in the US (and maybe Europe) practices the the culture of “driving to work is considered part of work, so if you get caught in shit traffic, those are clocked under work”, but that does not apply to us. The hours we burn in bad traffic are our personal hours. That means I have 3 to 4 hours less to work with, daily. And I do have certain deadlines to meet in earlier mentioned extra moolah ventures. Which leads us to this: I will still try my best to churn out new blog posts daily, but for the coming 5 to 6 months, it is only going to be on best effort basis. I won’t try to restrict myself with a lighter schedule, like setting a two post a week or something like that, because believe it or not, if I can make it, I still want to blog daily as it is one thing that makes me happy. But on some days, I probably would be too tired and/or busy with the other commitments and would not be able to make it. I don’t want to write about traffic jams again, so I guess I am mainly writing this to my regular readers so that it will be something that you know the reason of, rather than something that you didn’t see coming. If you noticed that I do not have new blog posts on some days in the coming few months, it is not because I am tired of blogging or lost passion or that sort of shit, it is because crappy traffic jams decided that my time is better spent watching other equally frustrated drivers instead of updating my blog. I will also probably comment on your blogs lesser than before. Not because I hate you, but because the traffic jams prefer me to spend quality time with them instead of with you guys. I still love you all much much one…
I wrote these today to replace the striked out parts that I wrote yesterday:
There wasn’t any news announcing the cancellation of this so-called traffic diversion plan, so I expected more or less the same for today. So I woke up at 5.45 AM and left home at 6.30 AM. I did not expect to beat the jam, I just expected to leave an hour earlier so that I can arrive at the office an hour earlier, at a more acceptable time of around 9.00 AM instead.
I guess many had the same plan as me, because I saw many cars already on the road, although it was not in gridlock mode (yet). So I turned on the radio, only to hear the traffic news announcing that the Chief Minister of Penang has instructed all road works to be halted and the road closure to be lifted immediately. True enough, all the barricades were gone, traffic remained smooth, and I arrived at my office just over 7.00AM.
So yesterday we all got stuck in gridlock traffic and arrive at work hours late. Today we all got duped into expecting the same but end up arriving at work hours early. In terms of work productivity, probably balanced out. But in terms of our personal time, it has been the most fucked up two days of my working life.
We are not out of the woods yet. As it is now, the roads have been reopened, but the flyover construction has to be stopped too. The Chief Minister has instructed UEM (the constructors) to submit alternative safety plans for audit before allowing further constructions that pose high safety risk.
I am not hopeful though. Those spans that they are trying to install, they all weigh a few thousand tonnes each, and they are trying to install close to 200 of them. For construction to move again, the roads will probably be closed again. We don’t want to risk a repeat of the construction collapse incident causing civilian casualty like previously happened, do we?
I think the only feasible way is to build a small bypass road adjacent to the coastal highway to increase traffic capacity. But then they have had 2 years to build that road if they wanted to and they didn’t.
I don’t know when they will decide to close the roads again, but I suspect it will happen again. So maybe what I wrote yesterday and striked out, might yet become applicable. That’s why I left them in the post…