As traffic woes grow, Bandra residents meet cops
This is easier said than done. Not many come forward to volunteer, Haridas Kiledar, police inspector, said. One of the few, Anita Lobo, a Bandra resident, who has been volunteering for 20 years. “I come across many people who pick fights with me, just because they don’t want to follow the rules,’ said Lobo. “My motivation to continue volunteering is to make people follow the rules and regulations. No one wants to do the work; they just have complaints”
Mumbai: Responding to the barrage of traffic complaints from residents of Bandra, Khar, Santacruz, and the wider western suburbs, Pravin Padwal, joint commissioner of police, traffic, called for a meeting on Tuesday. Over 100 residents were in attendance at the meet organised by Anandini Thakoor, managing trustee of Khar Residents Association (KRA), and Vivek Devnani, president, of Khar Gymkhana.
But the promise of enforcement of traffic rules came with a heavy-laden request: volunteer with the traffic police, due to the serious crunch of traffic police personnel – with only 60 traffic cops in Bandra and Khar.
Padwal agreed, saying there is a 35% vacancy in the Mumbai police and that they asked the residents to volunteer. “Having the residents volunteer will also increase awareness in their areas.”
This is easier said than done. Not many come forward to volunteer, Haridas Kiledar, police inspector, said. One of the few, Anita Lobo, a Bandra resident, who has been volunteering for 20 years. “I come across many people who pick fights with me, just because they don’t want to follow the rules,’ said Lobo. “My motivation to continue volunteering is to make people follow the rules and regulations. No one wants to do the work; they just have complaints.”
The traffic police take reinforcements from those employed by the metro cops, who work as traffic wardens. Three wardens, paid ₹12,000 a month by sponsors, have been assigned in Khar by Thakur. A further five will be inculcated in the next month, kept by the Khar Gymkhana.
Traffic issues are a dime a dozen, and each of the residents was armed with their complaints. The usual suspects came up: wrong-side driving, parking on both sides of the roads, bikes parked on footpaths, young bikers speeding without helmets, and more.
A newer issue, burgeoning lately with their influx, is the electric bikes operated mainly by delivery personnel. They whiz past silently and quickly, taking sharp turns and overtakes, catching drivers unaware. “There was talk about restricting their use for delivery workers, but no real solution has arrived,” said Karan D’Lima from the citizens group AGNI.
The lack of proper and visible road signages was also flagged, which led to a resident complaining that wrongful challans had been levied on him. But this ended up being an issue in which the traffic police passed the buck to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), claiming they had written to the BMC on the issue, but nothing was done. The residents offered to follow up with the BMC themselves.
“We have already started taking enforcement action after the meeting, and we will write to the BMC again. We have also requested citizens to complain about traffic violations themselves, through Twitter, the Mumbai Traffic mobile app, or through the helpline 8454999999. All the residents’ suggestions will be considered,” Padwal said.
Another sore spot that came up was the chock-a-block at Lucky Junction in Bandra, called Mohammed Rafi Chowk, which links the Bandra station to Hill Road and beyond. “The signal at the junction is too long when letting the SV Road traffic through, because VIPs use that stretch, and it has become longer in the past few months. But when coming or going to the station, one has to wait for three to four signals to be able to pass through,” said D’Lima. “This is a problem because that road leads to two hospitals, Lilavati and Holy Family. It’s also made that patch so unbearable that rickshaw drivers refuse to go to the station or go to Hill Road. I have had instances where the rickshaws have suggested the route from Waterfield or Turner Road, which despite being the longer route, takes the same time.”
“When we brought up the spot, the joint CP deflected and said the issue is that pedestrians cross the road in between and stop the vehicular flow. But that’s not the only issue,” he continued.
While the idea of recalibrating the signal was floated, the joint CP said that the signal is manually managed by traffic cops for four hours a day at peak times.
To not let these issues and solutions end at talk Thakur is planning to meet Padwal to follow up on everything discussed. “I’m hopeful these solutions will bear fruit, and I will make sure it does,” she said.