DNA, September 15, 2016
By Pradeep S Mehta
n the recent past, many new traffic lights have been installed across the city. One hopes that this move will help improve the driving habits of our vehicle drivers but it is a big no.
Many drivers continue to drive through red lights or in the opposite direction (and many a times speaking on their mobiles) creating a hazard for those who follow the rules.
Enforcement is poor: My concern as a road safety activist is that things are going from bad to worse. My angst as a car driver is that if a crazy two wheeler rider hits me and sustains injuries or dies, then I am held guilty because I am driving the bigger vehicle. If this trend of indiscipline on roads continues, my worry is how the next generations will cope with it.
I travel abroad frequently for my work, and the road discipline that I see in poor African countries is starkly far better than India. They do not even honk when traffic is crawling. In India, we honk for no rhyme or reason, under some false assumption that since there is a horn it must be used. I feel ashamed and we claim that we are a 5,000 year old civilisation.
We were told that there will be close circuit TV cameras at traffic crossings in Jaipur and violators will be prosecuted. I have not heard of a single case. This is evident from the lackadaisical manner in which the Jaipur Police functions.
They launched a Whatsapp number for citizens to send their complaints/views etc. I sent one message sometime ago that the bigger vehicles were not allowed on the elevated road towards Jaipur on Ajmer highway and there was a ceiling barrier. The barrier has been removed and buses have started plying on the elevated road merrily.
I did not get any response from the police to my message on Whatsapp for a long time, in spite of few reminders to the number and the Commissioner. Finally, I got a response that the matter is being resolved soon. That is yet to happen. Buses continue to ply on the elevated road.
The Whatsapp number for Jaipur Police and the facility was announced with great fanfare but my one experience only confirms our fears that things are not so hunky dory.
Reverting to the wildness of our drivers on the roads, I wonder how safe our pedestrians are. The city administration is also not worried about their safety. Every day I drive past the Station Crossing to reach my office, which allows a smooth flow of traffic after one way is imposed during the day.
But the smooth traffic flow does not take into account the plight of the pedestrians who have to cross the road at the crossing. The poor guys have to dodge the traffic and carry on at their own peril. The same situation prevails at the Sahkar Bhavan roundabout.
If Jaipur has to become a world class city and is now getting funding under the SMART Cities programme, AMRUT etc, should we not make lives of our citizens safer and better. Or are we so insensitive that it does not matter.
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