Mangaluru: January 18 marks the end of the national road safety week, which began on January 12. You would have noticed many banners spreading awareness around the city. “I have also seen a display of mangled remains of a motorcycle beside light house hill road, reminding the rider of potential risks involved in high speed riding. Recently MLA JR Lobo during the road and traffic inspection had promised to hold a public interaction to address traffic related issues”.
The promise had been kept and a public interaction session was organised at the Town Hall here, on January 18. But the show was poor. If you were one of the attendees, you would have been greeted by vacant seats. The first row however was full, thanks to the mediapersons who had gathered to earn a living off writing fantastic reports. The Town Hall witnessed poor attendance from the general public.
Dear pedestrian, what about that footpath you always wanted? Dear Bikewala, what about those potholes that scare you? Dear Carwala, what about the other cars when they cross lanes without any indicators? Yes we all criticize over tea and may be even go to twitter to share our woes. Isn’t the administration listening to us? Well actually it tried, expecting a huge gathering, spent substantial public money to rent the Town Hall. But people failed to show up.
Speaking at the interaction, MLA J R Lobo said, “We expected a lot of people today. A week back we (along with a team of traffic police, engineers and town planning officers) had visited some areas and discussed about the potential changes in the infrastructure, to tackle traffic related issues. Similar drive will be done every 15 days and suitable changes will be done. The idea is to improve the traffic issues within 6 months.”
“It was decided that a public interaction was necessary, but only a few have turned up. May be this is due to poor publicity. We need to repeat this session again with more awareness,” Lobo said. He further said that the traffic police force is not sufficient to tackle the traffic issues; the help of volunteers from the public in form of traffic wardens is the need of the hour. “Service of even 2-3 hours as a traffic warden is enough. Criticism is necessary, but only criticism isn’t good,” he added.
Though the attendance was low, the suggestions received from the few were of a wide spectrum. Suggestions included, overtaking by heavy vehicles should be banned, bulldozers, road rollers and other construction vehicles should commute only at night, and slower vehicles should be allowed in the left lane only.
Rajendra Kumar said, “Drivers should be educated on following strict lane discipline and lane markings should be drawn and mirrors should be placed at blind spot areas.”
Victor Mendonca said, “When we use the zebra crossing on the road to RTO, there is nowhere to go. Pedestrians are greeted with barricades on the middle of the road. These unplanned roads lead to jaywalking and result in accidents.”
Hanumanth Kamath blasted the administration for not implementing the suggestions previously made by the public. “Today people have not turned up for this sole reason, if at least 75% of our suggestions will be implemented, more people will come forward to voice their concerns.” He said that 99% of the buildings in the city had no parking space, which was a violation of the laws. “169 of such buildings were ordered to be demolished after which some of them built parking space,” he added.
Kamath said that the area near GHS road where Tokyo Market has come up was actually allotted as a parking space by the City Corporation. “The same corporation has given a door number and trading license to the shops in Tokyo Market Building. Ministers, policemen, go through the same streets and see these violations and yet they don’t have the courage to issue any notice. So how can we expect that our issues will be solved? It seems the authorities are not interested,” he said.
On the request by Lobo to the public to serve as traffic wardens, Kamath said, “Why is there a shortage of staff in the traffic police department? Why can’t we have more PC’s? If you are ready to recruit, then I am ready to serve. Fill the vacant posts, why should the public come forward as traffic wardens? Today even leaders haven’t turned for this session. Don’t they face traffic problems? Are we goats to vote for these leaders every 5 years?” he questioned.
“School vehicles should not be stopped on the road side; instead the school should make arrangements to let them inside the premises. I know, these suggestions may be implemented. But once the officers are transferred the earlier situation will return,” he said about the temporary implementation of suggestions by the authorities. He challenged the authorities to inspect the private buses for electronic ticket machines and said that no buses were issuing any electronic tickets.
“I have been criticizing and I will continue to criticise till the suggestions are implemented. It is good that the authorities have organised this interactive session. I can raise my voice and tell you my concerns, else there is nobody to listen,” Kamath said.
Walter Menezes said, “There are many illegal petty shops around the city, when we complain to the authorities, they say that the poor people need to earn a living. But it is not right to earn a living by disturbing public movement. For some time the authorities brought a Tiger lorry to remove illegal shops, but now the tiger seems to have gone to the jungle.” The fine collected is mere Rs 100, this was very low and he urged the authorities to make it at least Rs 500 to serve as a deterrent. Shrill horns should be banned.
GK Bhat said, “We need bus stands more than rickshaw stands. When a family died in a accident near Nanthur, there was talk about shifting the bus stop further. It has been a year now and the work hasn’t commenced. How many more deaths will it take?” he questioned.
Further suggestions included, implementation of e-vehicles and e-rickshaw with attractive schemes so that pollution is reduced. Construction of humps in school zones so that children can cross streets with ease.
Of course the public attendance might have been low, but we as pedestrians,bikewalas, carwalas, rickshawalas know that more of the suggestions on our tongue tips are voiced. Now it is the turn of the administration to prove the allegations are wrong, but actions should be taken wisely. Nobody can blame the public for the empty seats, it is a Monday and bunking work isn’t the best way to voice ones concerns. The vacant seats would have been just a spoonful of suggestions, but the session has given a mouthful to the authorities to digest. At least a few are adamant in changing the way we commute. The next session, if at all there is one should be held after spreading enough awareness.