Traffic signals, at last!
If the news of introducing electronic traffic signals in the cities of Srinagar and Jammu in near future is right, we are all poised to mark a major watershed in Jammu & Kashmir’s governance project. If executed well, along with some other related steps, it has a real potential in ushering us into a kind of revolution, which will surely make lives on our streets safer. Eventually, this step could greatly help in establishing a culture of accountability and the supremacy of rule of law in this troubled state.
Needless to say, for any civilized society, to have traffic signals at this point in time is quite late, to say the least. But it is always better late than never. Essentially, this project will be successful only if the civilian government is supported by the security set up in this initiative. That is important because that will have a positive bearing on the outlook of the rule of law in this state – something which is quite critical to address right now. All stakeholders need to understand that what is important in this development is not just the symbolism associated with it, there are other spin offs as well, which have a bearing on the larger political governance in this state.
Those who are conceptualizing this project, however, need to be cautious of the challenges associated with this exercise. One of the biggest spin offs of establishing traffic signals would be a veritable challenge to those associated with the administrative, political and security establishments who hitherto have enjoyed complete preferential treatment in terms of an unhindered movement. Establishment of traffic signals would, for the first time in this state, seek to create equality for all citizens before the law. As of now, the poor traffic cop managing the mess on our streets uses his discretion about prioritizing traffic allowance – government officials, police officers, security vehicles, and others of the ilk remaining at the top of his priority list.
Traffic signals would also result in unburdening the traffic cops who as of now remain highly consumed in regulating traffic manually, resulting in neglect of other crucial areas of traffic policing. Once unburdened from manual traffic management, the traffic cops must get better equipment to do their hazardous job. They must get better uniforms and safety gadgets – so that they remain safe and steadfast in discharging their duties. Most essentially, traffic department needs to create a system where in traffic cops get official pick and drop facilities to their homes. The present system of reliance on ‘lift’ from any private or public vehicle makes him vulnerable to compromise. There are some other areas which need attention. For instance, Traffic Police needs to be empowered to seek remedy and take action against government departments responsible in developing road infrastructure. Most often it is these agencies which are responsible for traffic mishaps due to the absence of warning signs on roads under repair or construction. These agencies need to be held accountable for their actions in the public domain. What the Traffic Department also needs to contemplate is engaging women constables in their ranks. We now have a good number of women driving cars on our roads.
It is possible that once the traffic signal system starts operating in Srinagar and Jammu, Traffic Department will come under pressure for using a separate discretionary system for allowing the vehicles of VIPs, as we know them. If there are any such exceptions in the proposed system – barring, may be, the head of the state – then this initiative will have a premature death. What is important is that this system is executed without any exceptions – all agencies including government officials, police, army etc. must respect and follow the established system. If we fail in making that happen, traffic signal system will fail to work as well.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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