News Karnataka
Saturday, August 20 2022

Tangled Traffic and the Man on the junction

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By Sandhya S, NewsKarnataka -Mangalore

While people travel in their luxurious cars  and A/C  vehicles, a man stands up-straight in the hot sun amid all odds, in order to regulate the traffic. The pollution, an accident, a death, a drunk driver, a fight between two vehicle owners, a guy without a helmet or a vehicle without a number plate or even a license, the man who tries to tackle all the problems is a traffic policeman.

The city of Mangalore which was once known to be a peaceful town, has seen rapid strides in development which has also  increased the density of vehicles on the roads of Mangalore which often witness traffic snarls  making situation worse. On the other hand, the dedicated traffic policemen continue to  strive hard to ensure  that traffic rules are adhered to.

Mangalore is a significant educational and industrial port city of Karnataka situated on the west coast, at the confluence of Nethravathi and Gurupura rivers. The total length of the roads network in the city is 888.9 kilometers. Three national highways pass through the city. NH 17 links Mangalore to Panvel (in Maharashtra), Udupi and Kanyakumari (in Kerala). N 48 links Mangalore with Bengaluru. NH 13 links Mangalore with Karkala, passes through Andhra Pradesh and ends at Solapur in Maharashtra.

The main roads in Mangalore are the K S Rao Road which runs through the center of the city, and the Falnir Road, which runs in the south of the city. There are many hotels in the city located around the K S Rao Road whereas Falnir Road has many offices around it; other prominent roads include Hampankatta, Pumpwell, Kankanady, Padil, Yekkur, Bikarnakatte, and Nanthoor.

While the city of Mangalore has heavy rush-hour traffic on these roads, the volume on some roads can reach stifling levels, even during “off” hours to which the zig-zag streets adds in more elements. Another major problem of the city is rash driving, the auto drivers, the motorists and the bus drivers are some of the main concerns.

The increase in traffic may be due to various factors such as improper construction or contraction of roads, the rise in vehicle density, parking place issues, the per capita vehicle ownership, unseemly city plan, emphasis on real estate the list can be never ending. The blame game goes on whether it is the administration, corporation, the traffic policemen or the public.

One of the instance narrated by a traffic policeman on one of the prominent junction made things  clear.He said, “If a guy is caught without a helmet, I impose a fine on him and give him a receipt. I request him and sometimes even order or insist him to pay the money in the court. Still,  he does not take the receipt and gives the money in my hand. Who is corrupt in this case? Me or the public?”

His question surely had more than one dimension, while we declare the officer to be corrupt in-turn the administration was to be blamed for lengthy procedures, and the general public was to be blamed for avoiding the procedure as well as encouraging corruption.

The traffic policemen play a key role between the bustling channels and jammed routes. Despite the fact that under the initiative of the central government when the state is observing a “Road Safety Week” to create awareness about the traffic regularities in the city, nobody thinks about the safety of the policemen who stand right on the middle of these busy roads.

Speaking to NewsKarnataka, TD Nagaraj, the inspector in Traffic East police station elaborated on the 25th Road Safety Week, he said, “The week is a symbolic way of the initiative, but to have a congestion free traffic people have to abide to the traffic rules throughout the year.”

“It is important that the youth of the society is made aware about the traffic rules and responsibilities of a rider, a driver or even a pedestrian. We have collaborated with few NGO’s as well as tied up with few schools to educate the target group,” he added.

 The 25th National Road Safety Week is  jointly organized by the district administration, Regional Transport Authority (RTA) and the police department. As a part of the week,  Pamphlets were distributed, lectures were organised and  Radio shows  conducted. Health camps to promote the campaign were organized and many more initiatives  were made by the department. Thus we perceive that the department is trying to make an effort so then where does the problem lie? Is it in framing  the rules?  Or is it on the part of enforcement?

Answering the puzzled question, inspector TD Nagaraj says that the traffic issue in Mangalore relies on 3E’s – Engineering, Education and Enforcement. He said, “The city needs proper Engineering, a scientific plan needs to be drafted and the infrastructure needs to be improved. At least 30 vehicles get registered per day thus the density is increasing and accordingly the land available is not sufficient necessitating a proper outline.’

Detailing the other points he said, “Educating the youth is essential.Creating awareness among the people is must and the last is enforcement, which is the responsibility of the administration and the department. All three aspects are important even if one is not put up with, the functioning gets disturbed.”

He further said that  a traffic police man works on a 4hrs shift wherein sometimes he is the only person working on the junction. There is an immense demand of traffic police officers, at Kadri about 55 traffic police officers work wherein the demand is 67, which means there is shortage 16 police officers; in the district almost 120 to 130 traffic police jobs are vacant. Thus with the growing density  of vehicles, it is difficult to manage, still we try our level best.
 On the other hand there are also a lot of health hazards to a traffic police man, dealing with the steamy sun of a coastal region like Mangalore and positioned on the most polluted streets.

With regards to health of a traffic policeman, Inspector TD Nagaraj says that the Mangalore Kidney Foundation had donated 20,000 use and throw pollution free masks to the traffic police men.The Biocan medical center has contributed 1000 permanent anti-pollution masks though it was not convenient as whistling and other such activities would get hindered. But we do organize health camps once in 3 to 4 months and try to retain the health of our officers, he adds.

In conclusion, Nagaraj said  “The traffic police are the face of the department as they are always out on the field in the glare of the public. Pointing fingers towards them becomes easy but rather the people must understand and cooperate. It is not only the responsibility of the law enforcement agency but also the accountability of the people to retain the social stability.”
Outlining the  upcoming plans, Assistant Commissioner of Police (traffic) Uday Naik said, “The city is still a ‘Big village’ and development is crucial and steady.”

“Around 5 signals have been approved by the corporation, and within the coming months they will be installed. Hampankatta junction will be a signal free junction whereas experiments and trials are been made near the light house road to make the routes congestion free”, he added.
 Although there are multitudes of problems, it is mainly seen that traffic snarls arise due to improper infrastructure as well as rash driving. There is negligence at every step. But people do not consider this rather just blame the traffic police men. It will be advisable if people would put a little more emphasis upon adhering to traffic rules.


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