One of the services that has come under the scanner of all state authorities from Governor to Chief Minister to Minister and Secretary but has remained elusive for satisfactory resolution is the urban and rural traffic of the State. There is hardly a fortnight when we, in these columns, do not touch on the issue of road accidents and traffic imbecility in our State. Knowing that ours is a hilly state and the roads are all tortuous, fatal road accidents are a recurring feature. Of course the Traffic Department is often calling meetings of experts and consultants to advise on the improvement of traffic yet as the saying goes the taste of pudding is in eating. What is the net result of these meetings and conferences? Nothing substantial.
The Chief Minister has done one more exercise. She was chairing a review meeting of Transport Department and in her address she listed a number of do’s and don’ts that need to be taken note of. All these suggestions are valuable in their own right. Who can challenge the fact that three agencies namely Transport, Traffic Police and Municipal Corporation have to develop the synergy while framing a new traffic policy. Likewise other suggestions made by her are all valuable and practicable. But the question is whether the Transport Department is really and sincerely prepared to bring about drastic reforms in its functionality and plan for modernization of urban transport. In particular the city transport of the two capital cities is in shambles to say the least. It is shameful if we go by the standards of city transport in a modern city. Travelling in a city minibus with crambed legs like cattle with just 18 seats but actually more than 50 commuters huddled together like cattle and sheep is humiliating and shameful. No civilized human being would like to travel in this cattle pen but they are forced by the transport authorities who have links with monopolisers of city traffic. We highly appreciate the suggestions of the Chief Minister but we regret to say that out experience has shown us that the Traffic Department is least concerned about making city travel comfortable for the commuters. Why does not the Traffic Department ask the private transporters to withdraw shameful mini buses and introduce low floor and less noised buses with large capacity besides being air conditioned? If modern buses in which travelling is a matter of comfort and grace are introduced at least half of the private vehicles plying on narrow roads of two capital cities will be reduced. But the Traffic Department is not doing that because of the vested interest and because of their indirect support to transporters with political clout. We appreciate Chief Minister’s suggestions and concerns but we are sceptic about the intentions of the Traffic Department and connected agencies.