Road safety related matters are among the most dealt with subjects in our State. Several reasons can be identified for this phenomenon. Firstly, the topography of the National Highways and the connecting roads of the State needs to be taken into consideration. It is a hilly State and most of the roads have to be carved out of the hills, many of which are made up of sand and clay and are instable. Even slight rain causes landslides and mud slides blocking the road. Secondly, the callous attitude of the Traffic Police Department of the State which is careless, advertently or inadvertently, in issuing driving licenses to people who are supposed to drive heavy vehicles or buses along the hilly roads. It is reported that some of the licenses issued are a result of favoritism or nepotism as the recipients do not undergo regular training for driving along hilly roads and become the beneficiaries of favour from Traffic Department. Thirdly, the use of outdated buses/trucks and carriers with worn-out engine parts tending to crash at any time are not checked and removed from roads as unserviceable. It is the duty of the traffic police to ensure that the condition of the vehicles conforms to the model set forth in the traffic manual. Thirdly irresponsibility and lack of sense of duty on the part of some of the functionaries at the Traffic Department is also responsible for road mishaps resulting in innocent fatalities.
We can also point our finger towards the Roads and Buildings Department which fails to ensure the prescribed standard of the National Highways and connecting roads. Some of the roads are given in the charge of Border Roads Organization and lately there have been many complaints against this organization not functional satisfactorily in our State. All this is in place but what is most distressing is the failure of the Government in fulfilling its commitment to provide safe roads, smart transport system and ensure strict enforcement of rules thereby sending a message that human life has no value in its eyes. After all it is the Transport Department which must formulate and implement policies so as to make transport system in the State safe and secure. Mere verbal commitments of the Government that it is duty bound to ensure the safety of life of passengers makes only rhetoric and not anything substantial. The taste of the pudding is in eating. The Vision and Objectives of the Government formulated under Road Safety Policy in September 2016 have not been taken up for implementation till date for reasons known to the authorities only. Committees are constituted at various levels with various terms of reference but at the end of day everything ends up in fiasco. At one point of time the Government came out with loud noise that it was planning to set up two driving institutes along modern lines one in Jammu and the other in Srinagar where aspirants would be imparted training in driving motor vehicles along hilly tracks and roads. On enquiring what had happened to that scheme we came to know that the land for setting up of the two driving institutes could not be identified so far.
Transport Department is not showing any progress in the area of streamlining road safety. Be it the streamlining of the road, reforming the license issuing matter, vehicle check and prevention case or any other serious matter connected with road safety, the department has only dismal performance. This is not acceptable and come what may the department has to go though metamorphosis if it has any commitment for providing facility of transport to the general public.