The Traffic Terror!

We are going from bad to worse!

For long Jammu and Kashmir is facing the worst civic and traffic confusion. Unfortunately, September floods made the situation worse and more chaotic. Traffic confusion is hitting the common man hard. Loss of human life and precious time due to traffic chaos cannot be ignored, that too in contemporary age of advanced science and technology. Death of commuters and drivers in traffic accidents is a routine now! Thousands get killed and become disabled due to traffic accidents throughout the state.

Not fair enough, we almost every time start with finding faults through traffic regulating system and inefficiency of regulating authorities, but this time let us first talk of shortfalls and bottlenecks in the system and then pinpoint their follies. Deficiency of infrastructure and manpower is the most prominent cause of broken-down traffic regulation mechanism in Kashmir. Over the period of time vehicular traffic in whole state of Jammu and Kashmir has grown many folds but unfortunately the infrastructure to carry the traffic load and the traffic regulating system failed to keep pace with growing traffic. Indifference towards traffic rules by public transporters and other motorists; encroachment along roads by shopkeepers and vendors and wrong parking has added to traffic disorder. A large number of vehicle owners, particularly public transporters and other drivers have become arrogant and bother least about traffic rules. On the other hand traffic regulators least care about faulty system and more often are complaisant with disdainful behavior of erring motorists for reasons better known to them. A dedicated strength of man and machine can do wonders and overcome any deficiency in the system, but an indifferent force will make the whole system to go weary.

A cursory look on working of our traffic regulating workforce at important intersections will expose the level of their alertness and efficiency. Most often they can be seen relaxing and looking for would be defaulters to achieve their assigned targets, exhibiting their skill of alertness only on the sight of some approaching VIP. Unfortunately, traffic regulating apparatus in the state has been turned into revenue generating agency and are assigned targets to compound the traffic violation matters. Interestingly, in the month of March most of the traffic cops will be seen engaged in realising fine from the violators. Authorities should consider more harsh ways and means of deterrence against violators. Cancellation of driving licenses and imprisonment to chronic violators will help a lot as against simple fine of few hundred bucks.

Post September floods, entire road network in Srinagar city is in shambles, and the nastiest part of worsening traffic scenario is somewhat slow pace of work on prestigious Jahangir Chowk, Rambagh flyover and unprofessional synchronization in execution of work and traffic flow in this strategic area. This bottleneck has added more to already existing troubling entry points of Zainakoot, Panthchowk, and Rawalpora crossings and several other bottlenecks inside the city. Beyond this wrong parking particularly by shopkeepers, shoppers and so called VIPs and violation of traffic rules by vehicles carrying high and mighty (read VVIP) their entourage and escorts vehicles make mess of Srinagar traffic.

Amusingly, every time after winters, when Darbaar returns to Srinagar, authorities’ wake-up from deep slumber and they intend to gear up the traffic machinery, and this time round it seems with the arrival of new government and political leadership the traffic cops are more serious than ever. Now it remains to be seen how far and how long their seriousness will last? What will be their strategy to deal with arrogant public transport system like mini-bus drivers; rogue medium passenger carriers and three wheeler drivers? How they will be able to contain and curb the VIP culture on roads and deal with the band of ‘ruined guys’ belonging to so-called pampered elite clan, who invade the streets of Srinagar with vanity number SUVs and scare the common man on roads?. Frankly speaking, to initiate action against all this rot, it requires political will on part of our leadership. Now, a humble and simple word to traffic cops ‘it is not the law that matters, but the implementation of law matters the most’. Till then people throughout the state and Srinagar city in particular will wait with their fingers crossed, because, unfortunately, we are caught between the devil of violators and the deep sea of indifferent regulators.