BUMPER-TO-BUMPER: Driving around the state capital is very stressful these days, more so during holidays
People here are mostly friendly and gentle, and always welcome the return of loved ones and relatives from other states -- but not the gridlock that comes with them.
KOTA BARU: EVERY TIME there is a public holiday or school break, almost anyone with a car here starts to shudder and groan.
On normal days, motorists are already fuming over the choc-a-block traffic here as they inch their way to and from work.
Thus, they know for certain of the extra strain on the road system during the holidays, as the town will inevitably be jam-packed with vehicles from out of state.
Although it is not as bad as the peak-hour traffic in, say, Subang Jaya, Kota Baru is bound to see a similar situation soon.
Those who have lived here all their lives blame current traffic woes on the network of roads, which has seen little improvement in the past decades.
The network of roads in Kota Baru has seen little improvement in the past decades, resulting in ever-increasing traffic jams daily. Pic by Zulkifle Che Abdullah
This reason has some merit judging from the state of several roads. For example, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, which is one of the main arteries here, remains pretty much the same despite the increasing number of vehicles.
So, too, is Jalan Sultan Ibrahim, which groans under the weight of heavy traffic daily.
For visitors, both these roads should be avoided as much as possible because they lead to the mother of all congestion here at the intersection with Jalan Hamzah.
During holidays, every other driver appears to be headed for this intersection on the journey to the popular duty-free shopping spots of Pengkalan Kubor in Tumpat and Rantau Panjang in Pasir Mas.
The junction at Kampung Sireh, which connects to the Sultan Yahya Petra Bridge built in the late 1960s, has become too narrow to accommodate the ever-increasing traffic flow between here and Tumpat.
Seeking an alternative route rarely works. This may just lead them to another bottleneck.
The construction of the second Sultan Yahya Petra Bridge is expected to bring some relief to road users who ply the route daily, but that is many months away.
Come Hari Raya Aidilfitri in August, the people will be lucky if they can cross towns in Kelantan without getting stuck in traffic for hours on end.
But before that, Kota Baru's prodigal sons will have to endure the 15-hour drive as part of their usual balik kampung trip -- more than double the time it normally takes to get here from Kuala Lumpur.
What's worse, the gridlock could last into the night, eerily similar to the traffic congestion in many parts of Kuala Lumpur.
Driving in Kota Baru, which used to be a breeze some 10 years ago, is now so dreaded that people try to avoid it at all cost.
By NIK IMRAN ABDULLAH | firstname.lastname@example.org Source: New Straits Times General 11 June 2012