A lot is happening, a lot more need be done…
Earlier I had written two write-ups in these columns on April 26th, 2015 and June 17th, 2015, both titled ‘Traffic Terror’ and this third one in the series touches different aspects of traffic nuisance in Kashmir valley and Srinagar city in particular. After much noise the State administration mobilized its traffic management machinery, and even after facing shortage of man and machine made its presence not only visible but to a certain extent effective as well. For the last few months there is a noticeable change both in traffic regulation and the attitude of people directly or indirectly related with traffic. Two important changes, wearing of seat belts by most of the four-wheel drivers and use of crash helmets by almost all two-wheeler drivers are the two bigger achievements of traffic regulating authorities during this period. This change in heart of drivers proved, one, efforts of strict and sincere implementation will never go waste and second, even hard-nuts like younger and aggressive two-wheeler drivers can be made to respect the law. So, if the authorities put extra efforts and will work with much higher degree of sincerity and integrity the other problems of wrong parking, arrogance of public transporters and pampered VIPs which contribute significantly to traffic terror can be checked with much ease.
Yet, the terror of traffic gridlocks is haunting the common man in Srinagar with same severity as earlier. What are the reasons beyond lackluster approach of regulating authorities and arrogance of drivers?
Almost a month back more than a dozen elderly women on Indira Gandhi road near Hyderpora chowk were demonstrating against shortage of water and had blocked both lanes of the Airport road for several hours. Many Airport and Budgam bound people particularly the tourists walked much of the distance on foot and several passengers missed their flight. The whole traffic on the road came to a standstill with adverse effect on traffic system in the whole city. The most shameful aspect of this episode, the menfolk had pushed their elderly women deliberately into agitation, knowing, handling them will be an unpleasant task for the authorities.
On 10th of November another episode of same shape and magnitude was stage managed near Rambagh Bridge at peak traffic hour in the afternoon. This imprudent act of a section of the society made hell of traffic situation in an area where traffic management is already in mess because of under construction flyover. These two incidents, made my head hang with shame. This was not only extreme of arrogance but too much of cowardice. Such incidents occur almost on all roads in the valley especially in Srinagar city and at times prove to be the biggest reason for gridlock and traffic mess. Administration should handle such menacing protests with iron hand as no one should be allowed to hijack the roads.
Then there is arrogance of public transporters, and failure of traffic authorities in taming them. At most crossings and busy streets of city, public transport like mini-buses, cabs and three-wheelers make a mess of traffic system by stopping anywhere on the road and not picking and dropping passengers at designated spots. And all this goes under the nose of traffic regulators and the police. Either the authorities are complacent with the situation because of the reasons best known to them or they do not want to put in extra efforts in their legitimate duty. Both ways they are wrong and are accountable for their responsibility. This situation of rowdy public transport is one of the major contributors to faulty traffic system. It can be checked with extra efforts only if you are not a covert accomplice to their inexcusable acts of violations.
The last but not the least, is the biggest, more shameful act of arrogance on part of VIP cavalcades. They break the rules with impunity and their escorts intimidate the commuters, drivers and pedestrian just to make way for their boss. They disobey all rules and regulations and all the traffic regulating staff and their paraphernalia watch helplessly. They become mute spectators along with the common man and curse the whole system and the pampered VIPs.
We people in particular should introspect along with the traffic managers and the VIPs and fix responsibilities for traffic mess, then and only then we will be able to draw a strategy to counter traffic terror!