Availability of conveniences overcomes hardships but reversal happens during travel from Sopore/Baramullah to Srinagar, and vice versa. It is no less than a nightmare which the commuters have no option but to endure. Traffic snarls observed particularly at Pattan and Sangrama is beyond description.
Looking at this problem from traffic issue only will be misleading as these are the symptoms of multiple factors including socio-psycho-economic aspects which have turned into hydra-headed social problem.
Availability of easy loans from the financial institutions has been eating into the vitals of our social structure under the disguise of newer and more middle class levels in absence of appropriate investment environment. This has been concurrently beguiling the society disadvantageously. The financial crisis of 2007-2008 in USA is an eye opener, when loans were made to people who had difficulty in maintaining the repayment schedule besides extending credit to people who would otherwise have no access to the credit market, no possession of property assets to use as security and excessive debt than known income.
Mushrooming vehicle presence on roads particularly LMVs in absence of proportionate infrastructure is one of the major offshoot of this mess. Traffic management is being wrongly construed to be the responsibility of traffic police only instead has a wider sphere. It involves inter alia the role of financial institutions, road construction engineering wings, registration issuing authorities, revenue department, police, electric/PHE deptt and public.
Ironically the inertia is so deep that neither complaints nor any action is visible on ground from the stakeholders. Ginz-nus- a Kashmiri proverb pointing towards intentional loss of smelling sense aptly describes the muddle. Chalta-hey (nonchalance) syndrome has literally desensitized the otherwise vibrant populace. Pandemonium and chaos observed during these traffic snarls, invariably stretching to odd hours, cock a snook at the authorities and at our deluded sense of development result in road rages and tragic accidents. The lives it costs by impeding timely medical attention puts all of us to shame. It is a travesty that political constituencies of some high profile politicians with stint as important ministers fall in and around the said highway but the bandobust to facilitate the movement of their motorcades seems to stand in between their empathy towards the agonies of stranded and hapless passengers.
Sincerity, professionalism and foresight particularly of people at the helm of affairs can go a long way in ameliorating the agony of public by implementing slew of measures elucidated below which concurrently points towards responsibilities of public/commuters and need of their cooperation:
*Constitution of a proper Traffic Management Board consisting of members from all concerned including financial institutions.
*Regularization in issuance of Registration Certificates.
*Regularization in issuance of loans with occasional moratorium and limit to number of sanctions. However this simultaneously requires better public transport.
*Expansion and improvement of roads. Restrictions on occupation of highway road by hawkers/vendors/beggars.
*Proper and timely completion of drainage, laying of communication cables, installation of electric poles and to free highway from all encumbrances.
*Urgent need for a Bypass road at Pattan and flyover at Sangrama (junction where vehicles from Sopore area join Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway). However, as an interim measure strict regulations are required at the said points with permanent deployment of traffic and other related officials besides exploring options of diversion routes/detours.
*Regular and adequate deployment at all problem points.
*Installation of barriers, signage etc. Using of cones and chevron signs, arrow boards to guide commuters.
*Restrictions on lane changing too often. No multiple Ques.
*Allowing drivers to merge into your lane.
*Introduction of E-Challaning and setting up of a monitoring cell in this regard.
*Creation of digital chip for all the license holders which will help in creating a data bank for all the license holders to be scrutinized by E challaning monitoring cell.
*Establishment of digital traffic signals.
*Intensifying of highway patrol.
*School buses seem to exploit their mandate and have become one of the prime violators of traffic norms. Supreme Court guidelines in this regard need strict implementation.
*Tippers have had been taking system for a ride and are responsible for majority of accidents. The make of these vehicle also are in violation to laid down norms. Stringent checks required for them.
*Restriction to occupation of areas for Auto/Taxi/Sumo stands without any proper permission.
*Bus bays to be designated along the road as only stoppage points for vehicles.
*Use of Dipper more often and upper to be used only if necessary, while driving at night.
* Lack of awareness about traffic norms to be addressed with introduction of Traffic Parks in Schools and at public places.
*Regulations at junctions. At T- junctions vehicle on major roadway has a first right besides timely stoppage at Y-junctions is required. In Taiwan when at least two vehicles reach a T-intersection without working traffic light, the vehicle on the side of road is to yield to any other vehicle straight on the main road. If two vehicles want to turn left, vehicle on the left is to yeld.
The above points are not exhaustive but if implemented and followed properly can transmogrify the traffic scenario on the said road in particular and in the valley in general.