Riding low on road civic sense

JAN 15 -

Recently, the Metrop-olitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) decided to deploy a number of its personnel in plainclothes to busy intersections in the city. Their rationale was that a majority of drivers only follow traffic rules in the presence a uniformed official. Their hunch proved right when the police in plainclothes managed to take action against a massive 5,422 individuals in less than a month.

This result does not just point to a laudable campaign by the MTPD but reflects a deeper, more ingrained, public mentality, mainly the lack of a sense of responsibility while on the road. “As an institution to maintain law and order, we have to do everything to ensure rules and regulations are followed,” said Pawan Giri, spokesperson at the MTPD. “It is disgraceful that such a large number of violators regularly fall under our net. We would be happier if traffic laws were followed and we didn’t have to take action against any individual.”

Vehicle operators, on the other hand, tell a different story. Their grouse is with the seeming arbitrariness of traffic rules. “The road rules changes time and again. The U-turns and stop-signs change as per the traffic personnels’ wish. Some of the rules are not even effective. For the seatbelt rule, they don’t check its condition or whether it’s even plugged in. We just wear it like a thread. I don’t think wearing a seatbelt in this city is any helpful, even during accidents,” complained Hira Maharjan, a taxi driver.

It is not just vehicle operators and traffic personnel but pedestrians, too, who have their lament. Road sections well-equipped with sky bridges or zebra crossings exist but a majority of pedestrians seem to lack the civic sense to use such facilities, said traffic police. However, pedestrians provide their own reasons for such actions. “The whole city is messed up and lacks proper crossings. Right now, the city even lacks proper footpaths. We cannot determine whether the paths are for walking or for vehicles,”said Krishna Kunwar, a resident of Old Baneshwor.

A few months back, traffic police attempted to take stern measures against individuals who failed to cross streets using designated areas or sky bridges. Such violators were locked up in a small cage in Jamal and slapped a fine of Rs 100 each. Traffic police humorously treated these ‘prisoners’ to fruits and sweets However, the traffic police, already spread thin, are not able to carry out such practices on a day-to-day basis.

Spokesperson Giri said that such civic sense has to come from within an individual. “We have tried to establish a proper system on the roads but we lack support from a majority of individuals and drivers. It becomes a habit to follow an established system and if such a habit is developed, it will be to everyone’s advantage,” said Giri.

Amid all violations, the traffic police are still conducting awareness programmes for drivers and also for pedestrians. “Our job is to remind people to follow the rules. They just have to realise that it’s for their own safety,” said Giri.


Posted on: 2013-01-15 08:20