The Road Mess

Rules are to be enforced to save roads from chaos….

Every highway in Kashmir is full of chaos and at present Srinagar city in particularly is facing the worst possible traffic confusion. In the absence of proper contingency plan the ongoing work on proposed flyover from Jahangir chowk to Rambagh crossing has worsened the situation. In approaching summer when work on this project will be in full swing the traffic situation on this track will be more unimaginably chaotic. Traffic mess is a routine in almost all parts of the world. At occasions most modern and well equipped cities all over the world experience worst traffic problems but a prompt administrative intervention and efficient traffic management system saves the situation before it turns nasty. But here it is entirely a different story! Instead of making a management strategy for any impending traffic confusion the authorities either sit on the issue like ‘Kumbhakarna’ or further complicate the situation by ill-conceived projections and lackadaisical implementation.

A simple analysis of behavior and working of our traffic department both managerial and men in blue on road will reveal a different appearance and working pattern of this otherwise most important feature of our administration. We have a transport commissioner, joint transport commissioner and a fleet of RTOs and ARTOs assigned with the job of managing the working of transport system in cooperation with traffic police and other agencies. They are supposed to facilitate comfortable and smooth traffic on our roads. However, if not all but most of these authorities bother least about the traffic on road, instead they keep themselves busy only in issuing driving licenses, bargaining vanity registration numbers and doling out fitness certificates. Their presence on highways is not expected every time but what about the traffic cops who are supposed to deliver on the road? We all know the ratio between quantum of confusion on our roads and the quantity of machine and men to manage it is contrasting. But the available manpower is not working even to the least of its ability and efficiency. A quick look on traffic cops at any busy intersection of Srinagar city will not only prove interesting but disgusting as well. Instead of managing the traffic and checking the violators they most of the times behave as mute spectators even while traffic violations are committed brazenly in front of them. At times they are so arrogant and indifferent that you doubt them being part of a disciplined force. Recently at Rambagh crossing I ventured to draw the attention of traffic cops towards some violators. The mocking response from one of them in Kashmiri language was, ‘Kar-sa panen kaeem’ (mind your own business).  Every traffic cop irrespective of his rank becomes not only alert but completely rejuvenated with highest degree of enthusiasm at the sight of a VIP cavalcade. Their walkie-talkies and hands get hyperactive to make smooth passage for the VIP at the cost of poor common-man’s legitimate rights. The minute VIP crosses over their jurisdiction they let the whole stranded traffic from all directions into a mad confusion and withdraw from the scene. Interestingly, these otherwise unwilling cops can be seen actively and efficiently directing the traffic and admonishing the violators at VIP’s functions.  At the end of the financial year—February and March to be precise  majority of traffic cops instead of managing the traffic indulge in managing the financial targets of the traffic department. They lay traps on highways and hold the traffic at busy roads and intersections to compound the violations and fine the violators. Here again they are discriminative, as they stop only private vehicles and commercial carriers. Only God knows why they don’t lay their hands on worst traffic violators, the commercial passenger carriers like minibuses, taxicabs and three wheelers. May be they have some understanding with the lot!  
Beyond traffic managers’ public is equally responsible for traffic confusion.  Roadside wrong parking of vehicles, particularly private cars on every road is a common scene. Wrong side driving and overtaking along with use of cell phones while driving create hurdles in smooth traffic movement and very often lead to fatal traffic accidents. Wrong parking or halt at unauthorized stops by minibuses and three wheelers and other light motor vehicle passenger carriers particularly at busy intersections and traffic lights is the biggest jeopardy that triggers massive traffic jam. Pedestrians who are the worst sufferers of traffic chaos are also responsible for traffic disorder. Majority of pedestrians in a hurry try to cross the road in middle of the traffic flow leading either to traffic jam or some fatal accident.
To resolve this confusion it is high time to depute more manpower (cops) to manage the unruly traffic of Kashmir, particularly that of Srinagar city and other major towns and instill sense of responsibility and law-abiding within the public by strictly enforcing traffic rules without any fear or favour.