Guwahati Residents Face Speed Breaker Menace in Hengrabari to Japorigog Road
GUWAHATI: On a stretch of four kms, the Hengrabari to Japorigog road which connects VIP to Zoo Road, has approximately 31 speed breakers. This indicates that per kilometre, there are almost eight bumps. It further simplifies to one speed breaker every 125 metres on an average.
As per the Indian Road Congress (IRC), the distance between one speed breaker and the next should be at least 100 to 120 meters. However on the Hengrabari to Japorigog road, the distance between a few speed bumps is not even 10 metres at a few locations.
Indeed, speed bumps are the common name for a family of traffic calming devices that use vertical deflection to slow motor vehicle traffic in order to improve safety conditions. Variations include the speed hump, speed cushion and speed table as per the IRC. These are mostly installed in front of schools, colleges, temples and such institutions. But such huge numbers on a busy connecting road in Guwahati is appalling.
A few of the speed breakers, in pairs, have even been constructed near the entrance of random by-lanes where no sensitive institutions are located. This not only slows down vehicular movement unnecessarily but creates significant congestion especially during office hours. On this road, speed breakers are not the exception but quite the rule – a way of life.
PWD claims local pressure on contractors
Taking stock of the matter, G Plus approached the Public Works Department (PWD) Dispur Unit Engineer Pranab Rabha who too stated that the speed bumps should be made in front of schools and colleges. "In our general estimate, we don't even have a provision of speed breakers," added Rabha.
However, a senior official in PWD has claimed that public pressure towards the department has led to the construction of speed breakers at times. "It is a few locals who force us and further pressurise the local contractors," added the official. There are even allegations of pressure by local organisations that are making such demands.
As revealed by the PWD, the same situation is prevalent in other parts of the city. The situation is worse in the by-lanes on the outskirts where the villagers or people living in suburbs pressurise the contractors into constructing speed bumps.
All this is essentially a gross violation and raises an important question. Are these constructions being done by taking necessary permission from the senior PWD official or the chief engineer in this case?
G Plus spoke to PWD Superintendent Engineer Naba Konwar who acknowledged the pressure from the ground. He also stated the same scenario when "the local contractors are forced." Further, he mentioned that the locals have cited a variety of reasons for them making such demands including chain snatching incidents, women safety and theft.
G Plus spoke to the Dispur Police Station to verify cases of such crimes as claimed by the locals. “Chain snatching occurs in the city in both the by-lanes and on the main roads. But it will be wrong to say that unusually high occurrence has been recorded from that particular area,” added a senior police official.
What has the public got to say?
At the head of the road from the Japorigog side, the locals have expressed concerns of vehicular safety. "There is so much rash driving by the younger generation. What's the other way if not the speed breakers? We have to this," said Naba Kumar Tabhildar, a resident of Japorigog.
A few locals even accepted the allegations that it was they who had told the contractors to build the speed bumps. "We have only told them to make these speed breakers. What's the way out? Due to the traffic in Ganeshguri, everyone uses this shortcut leading to rash driving. The women and the elderly have trouble even walking on this lane," said Diju Sharma, who runs a small shop.
Although the legality of the demands by the locals is ambiguous, they have a point in highlighting the concerns regarding the increasing traffic in the area. As the congestion in the Ganeshguri side has increased over the years, the commuters prefer to utilise the road.
A brief history of the road
The problems of alleged rash driving and chain snatching were alien to the residents surrounding the road. However, with good construction came more urban woes. A local shopkeeper near the Kali Mandir who has been residing in the area for the last 37 years recalled the humbler times. "It was a muddy red road carved from the hill sand. Forget speed breakers, it was not even a proper road," said Riddis Bhattacharya, who runs an electrical shop. He recalled that the speed breakers were constructed later during the earlier phases of the road’s development. Thereafter, a majority of them were constructed.
The current road was developed further by the PWD over the existing speed breakers but they ignored the issue of its high numbers. "I renovated the road with new surfacing over the existing speed breakers," Prabab Rabha, PWD Dispur Engineer added.
So the concerns of the locals are valid in a way that the speed breakers protect them from the aforementioned problems that they stated. As such, the sensitive areas do need to be protected. But it is not to be forgotten that a few have utilised the loophole to construct them even in front of by-lanes.
The commuters face woes
The newer generation who are working in the area are not happy with such unregulated constructions. G Plus spoke to Amrit Baishya who runs a drug rehabilitation centre in Hengrabari. "It is really difficult as too many of them are elevated and it slows down the traffic causing a lot of frustration," said Amrit.
The concerns of extreme elevation or the unregulated means to construct them have even increased the expenses of the cab operators. "Going through that area causes physical car damage. The bumps are not even coloured and we have to apply the brakes suddenly which affects the ride quality of our passengers," said Ismail Ali, President of All Assam Cab Owners' Association (AACOWA).” The AACOWA has requested moderation in considering the speed bumps to reduce their commuting hardships.
As per the IRC, a speed breaker should have a rounded hump of 3.7 metres width and 0.10 metre height to enable vehicles to cross at a maximum speed of 25 kmph. In the Hengrabari to Japorigog road, such rules are lost in implementation.
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