Staff-shortage, long working hours add to mess; Locals, tourists suffer Part 3rd
Government’s alleged failure to adequately strengthen “staff-starved” Traffic Police is affecting City’s normal life, all the times. While daytime jams are nightmarish, evenings are proving the worst.
By 80:30 PM when entry of heavy vehicles including speeding tippers, and tourist coaches begins into the City, appearance of beat constables starts going thin.
Gridlocks coupled with allegedly reckless driving by tippers leave the commuters helpless. Not only the locals but even tourists bear the brunt bringing disrepute for the tourism sector.
Commuters said it was devil and the deep sea situation: At places there are jams –elsewhere reckless driving –all going unchecked.
TERROR IN THE DARK
Come evenings and traffic jams further. By 8:30 PM or even a bit earlier hundreds of tippers and other heavy vehicles start rushing into the City from all sides; be it Soura in the north, Parimpora in the west Hyder Pora in the south or Hazratbal in the east.
At Hyder Pora, commuters say, one has to risk life to drive amid speeding tippers. Worst fears often come true. Heavy vehicles have mowed down many. One such death took place right outside the Civil Secretariat but the tipper driver could never be caught. The driving has been so reckless that at times tippers rammed straight into City centre shops, like the ones near Magarmal Bagh.
People are a worried lot. A medico at SKIMS said he is often scared to drive back to his south City residence in the evening hours. “Amid jams and reckless driving in patches along the route, your life is truly at risk,” the medico said.
Commuters said most of the accidents in the evening hours have remained hit-and-run. “The problem is that in the absence of proper regulation, tippers rarely bear proper number plate on the rear and so escape scott-free after hitting any one,” said Sageer Ahmed of south City.
‘ORPHANED’ OLD CITY
While the civil lines, which still has some traffic police bears with the problem, it looks worst for old City, the Shaher-e-Khaas.
The Shaher-e-Khaas plight is visible right from near Munawarabad where government plans to construct a gate to old City. Hundreds of vehicles are seen stranded along the route. Locals alleged that the jams continue till around 10:30 PM.
The old City residents have a point. They said what if some eventuality takes place. “For that matter it’s impossible to even rush patient to hospital,” said Shazia Arif of Lal Bazar whose mother was recently hospitalized. She said it took them two hours to reach hospital.
While locals have been helplessly bearing, tourists too are offended lot. For tourists reaching areas like Munawarbad which houses scores of hotels and guesthouses is cumbersome. After day’s trip outside when the tourist buses reach City, they get stuck in jams. “The biggest problem I confronted in Srinagar was that traffic jams haunt you all the times. Be it day or night,” said Harish Kumar of New Delhi.
A hotelier said the evening mess was bringing disrepute for the tourism sector. “Even at plush places like the Boulevard tourists avoid stroll because of traffic mess till late hours,” the hotelier said.
‘ACTIVE’ CONCERN STUCK
Mere 250 odd traffic cops man City traffic against actual requirement pegged at around 1000. Ignoring some of the most vital junctions, the government has been concentrating on traffic regulation on some selected routes, mostly frequented by the VIPs.
On January 11, 2014 breaking half a decade of silence, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Ali Muhammad Sagar admitted that the ruling coalition was aware of shortage of the workforce in Traffic Police. Sagar said “strengthening of manpower in Traffic department is being actively pursued by the Government.”
Sources said over the years Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was misinformed about the issue. “He was told that additional 500 cops have been deployed on Srinagar duty, while more would be added,” said a party man in know of the matter.
But till now there has been no breakthrough. “How can you expect a traffic cop to keep signaling with his arms and hands from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM or more… This is humanly impossible and unlike of other police duties,” said a retired traffic police official adding unless staff is strengthened there could be no step forward.
But a Traffic Police official denied any problems. “We do manage traffic till late hours. Police never sleeps,” he said and dropped the phone.