Havoc on the roads

If you venture outside on the roads of Kashmir or just use Abdullah Bridge to cross Jhelum, you will either pull your hair in frustration or, facing the mayhem, just give up.
Havoc on the roads
File Photo

If you venture outside on the roads of Kashmir or just use Abdullah Bridge to cross Jhelum, you will either pull your hair in frustration or, facing the mayhem, just give up.

 In their best wisdom, the traffic regulators create more bottlenecks than facilitating the flow of traffic. They hope it will disappear in thin air or make way to another hot spot where different managers take charge.  

A turban wearing  cop makes signs with his hands at crossroads in Maharaja times when less than a lac of vehicles lived on roads in the state.   The iron monsters outnumber living population now.   The mayhem of excessive vehicles starts at the RTO level.  There are no limits placed on registration of new vehicles.    No one provides proof of a parking space for new cars acquired.    

The banks are ready and willing to loan money and petrol is cheap.    Numbers of these iron monsters is disproportionate to space available.  Everyday more vehicles pour into circulation.    In most other tourist destinations outside cars park in peripheral locations and only local transport is permitted inside.    

Busses have become a status symbol for private schools vying for popularity.    Children never came to any harm walking to school or at best sharing a lift.  In setting an example, encourage government employees to walk to work or use communal transport.    

In Bhutan, they anticipated overcapacity traffic, pollution, and permit one day a weak only even number cars and alternate week's odd numbers.    Universally only road worthy vehicles are permitted.  In Kashmir, any contraption that moves plied on roads.    

The roads made from Maharaja's time are bereft of any Highway Code signs.    

Not even a drop of paint demarcates  lanes going left or right, unbroken Give-way or  Stop sign, One way arrows, Turning right or left sigs, Broken lines that permit overtaking, Slow lanes, Zebra crossing,  Double yellow lines for no parking, and most important of all the Roundabouts where  traffic moves in one direction.    All road signs are available.  I can donate a booklet for public use.   Once in place it sets a discipline, as start enforcement will follow.    

In the absence of computerised traffic lights where all lights automatically coordinate with each other to control traffic in the city, police officers posted at crucial points coordinate on telephone do the work.   That needs training.  

Administration takes a warped attitude by engaging police officers making space for VIP and VVIP traffic, shoving cars out of parking places wandering for space and then siren-loaded trucks pick abandoned cars.   The cycle of chaos goes on.  

In the meantime, busses stop at any place they like, people go jay walking crossing the roads and motor bikes and autos race to find the first available chink visible.    Chaos continues when the mighty school busses arrive.  

Private schools delude that they perform better and raise status for rich pupils.

Nothing done will improve traffic unless the volume has reduced; structural changes in place and proper training afforded to drivers.   Existing roads, pavements, bridges and flyovers upgraded as a priority and planned for future years.  

Cycle lanes are important to encourage people using the bike.   Public transport first introduced in Kashmir revolutionized transport.   Lorries racing mad on roads and stopping at the sight of first passenger jay walking replace it.  

Parking bays are non-existent.     There are no meters but uniformed collectors used generate income that will restore broken pavements for pedestrians rendered useless at present because they are too high from roads.   Parking spaces provided by multi-storey car parks is essential.    

Random parking at crucial points is a concern in small country roads as well that escapes notice of police.    

As example Gulamddin Reshi Road, parked cars choke Brein, leaving inches for traffic space.    Recently, four houses gutted down to rubble because a fire engine failed to drive past the parked cars.  

We need to change our attitude.   Some are so pleased with their atrocious actions that they smile and expect praise from the relative or girl friend seated next.    Chaos impedes others languishing in cars and ambulances or transport of other type.    

Turning right at traffic lights, they outstrip those waiting in the first two lanes in view of police who allow them to jump the queue and overtake everyone else.   The chaos continues.   Any small space visible anywhere in traffic stream is instantly filled with bikes, cars and auto-rickshaws.   The police just wave them on.      

The system of issuing driving licences is a disaster.    I will not expect UK standards where written tests, virtual demonstrations are a prelude to driving test on the roads.    The drill is driven hard that no one ever violates rules that will disqualify him or her from driving for years.    

Attitudes will require a change.   They shine headlights at night and blind the others without realizing that   it  puts them at risk of him running  into them.  That does not enter their calculation.   In some countries in Europe, essential lights always turned on even in daytime as a rule.  

 In Dubai, there are no police visible but all car users get a fine if they violate minor regulations.  They have overhead cameras everywhere.     

 People like a safe environment.    

I have listed my recommendations in a random order taking in account the three 'E' formula suggested by one astute retired traffic officer.  The letters suggest Education, Engineering and Enforcement. 


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