The way out: Strict traffic rules and counselling

Tuesday, 24 November 2020



The way out: Strict traffic rules and counselling

Tinat Atifa Masood | November 18, 2018 12:44 hrs

Every Guwahatian will vouch for being frustrated every time they’re on the streets trying to maneuver their car or bike through a melee that just refuses to ease. Over the past five years there has been a noticeable lackadaisical attitude of the Guwahati Traffic Police (GTP) in enforcing traffic rules strictly. Changing the uniform colours and getting leaner men cannot be a solution to traffic jams, if they hang onto their phones during peak working hours. Cars, buses and bikes stop and parked any which way they wish and GTP says nothing about it. For example, if GTP had made it a rule to wear helmets and seat-belts, then they should also make sure that people are following these rules. There should be strict monitoring in place, not just piecemeal.

Having said this, recently, I have noticed quite a flurry of activities of the GTP; stopping bikes and charging a fine from the driver for not wearing a helmet, walking up to people and reprimanding them for double-parking, et al. It is in fact heartening to see that they are getting stricter, when it has always been people like me who have been doing their work and telling people that they need to park their cars with a conscious sentiment for other commuters.

A couple of years ago, I started a ‘Clapping Club’, where I would stand at the corner of the road, most of the time in front of the All India Radio gate, on the footpath and clap and jeer at commuters who drove on the wrong side of the traffic on the Chandmari Flyover. I would say, “Wow! Wonderful! Very good! You’re doing a great job; driving on the wrong side of the road. You’re indeed setting a great example.” They would look at me as if I was mad. Of course, I am mad about people not following the rules and the authorities not taking cognisance of this blatant fact. I have even taken pictures of the cars, bikes and cycles taking a turn towards the right onto the flyover when they could have taken the left to come around through a longer cut and believe me when I say this, there were more than 42 cars, including bikes and cycles making a wrong turn in flat 2 minutes. These people could have better still taken the road along the Assam Engineering Institute wall, which leads to Chandmari. But no, they want shortcuts at every instance and that is what is creating all the traffic woes in the city. The Chandmari Police Station does deploy some officers from time to time to catch hold of these culprits and issue challans but that too, once in a year. So, everyone has a field day and flouts the rules, knowing very well there won’t be a single traffic policeman to nab them. And the best part is, these people while breaking the traffic rules, have their daughter or son in tow. The very thought that these children are going to emulate their parents in another decade or so, breaks my heart. These parents are leaving behind a legacy of wrong doings for their wards.

Apart from all this traffic hotchpotch, I have realised that there are very few drivers who respect pedestrians. I remember, while on a Rotary Peace trip to Canada, while crossing a road, our team from India was told to cross the road confidently, while the car stood several metres away from the crossing. If the car should try to run us down, our host repeated, the driver will be fined and imprisoned. Here cars never stop at the zebra crossing, almost running people over, leave alone letting people cross over from one side to the other. While I always make it a point to observe the zebra crossing rule, there would be others who would honk at me from behind, some would stall their cars and bikes right on top of the zebra crossing and some would glare at me as if I am an alien. Guwahatians have never understood the purpose of a zebra crossing, more so because the nouveau car owners have never been initiated into these pertinent facts of the road. Drivers need training from the traffic department on how to behave with pedestrians and now, it is an important activity that the GTP should think of taking up, without delay! 

Recently however, I have noticed that GTP is creating an impact with their traffic abhiyaan of imposing a fine on commuters for crossing over or standing on the zebra crossing! It’s an absolutely new activity and people are being caught unawares. I have been taking pictures constantly of errant car drivers and posting them on social media and also reiterating on how important zebra crossings are at traffic signals and at vantage points on the road! I am sure along with extracting a fine from the drivers, GTP will also counsel them on their responsibility when it comes to the safety of pedestrians and other commuters. 

The author is a writer, poet, blogger at large and socio-political activist

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