BENGALURU: Sixty-six-year-old Kiran Mandanna starts for his office at 6.30 am from O’ Shaughnessy Road in Langford Gardens to avoid the massive 8 am traffic jam in front of his house. Pallavi Kiran, his daughter, starts an hour later and says that if she steps out of the gate after 8 am then she won’t be able to put a step forward for the next 15 minutes.Members of various resident welfare associations (RWAs) around the area came together to form a traffic committee and they found that their neighbours, legacy schools that are nearly a century old, causing the traffic nightmare.
While new schools have moved to the outskirts of the city, older schools such as Baldwin’s, Bishop Cotton, St. Joseph’s Indian High School, Sacred Hearts and Frank Anthony are close to residential areas. When parents come to drop or pick up their child, the neighbourhood turns into a blaring, crowded mess.Out of 4,500 vehicles towed by Ashok Nagar traffic police station from January to end of November, more than 2,000 were hauled from these school gates, according to Mohammad Siraj, traffic inspector of Ashok Nagar.
Residents and the police say that repeated meetings with schools have yielded nothing. CE spoke to a few schools and one said that residents have to accommodate small inconveniences and another said that they are working to remedy the chaos. Bishop Cotton spokesperson Daniel Christopher said, “We are not turning a blind eye to this, we plan to hire buses from January.”
Never resolved issue
Though the RWA traffic committee was formed a year ago and a plan of action was made in October 2016, along with DCP Abhishek Goyal, not much has been accomplished. DCP Ahishek Goyal tells City Express that this problem has been around for the last ten years and regular meetings are held to resolve it.“The situation is the same. We have given suggestions to schools but they have not implemented them,” says Goyal. The residents are hopeful that this upcoming meeting on December 16 will see results.
Last October, many suggestions were made to schools ,such as adoption of buses, granting extra points to students who carpool and implementation of drop-off-pick-up by parents to decongest lanes. “One year down the line, nothing has been done,” says Nithya Reddy, vice-president of the Citizen Welfare Association of Richmond and Langford Town, who also heads the traffic committee along with Pallavi.
The traffic police say that schools have not been responsive and co-operative.School representatives say that they welcome government officials to visit them and offer suggestions to regulate traffic in narrow lanes.
Purushotham, transport in-charge of Baldwin Boys High School, agrees that traffic is worse during the peak hours including 12.30 pm when nursery children go home. “School traffic lasts maximum for half an hour,” says Purushotham. “We have 23 school buses and accommodate many children. Residents have to adjust a bit,” he adds.
Sumithra B N, transport in-charge of Baldwin Girls High School, says that it is not just the school that is causing traffic congestion in the area. “There are shops and hospitals and media houses in the same area that causes equal traffic,” she says. “During the peak hours we have school staff including the security guards and PT teacher as well as me, monitoring the traffic,” Sumithra adds.
“When we met the residents, they suggested letting vehicles drive into school premises to pick up children. If accidents occur or anything goes wrong, then the school will be held responsible,” Sumithra says.
Absolute Nightmare for residents
For the residents residing near the gates of these schools, 8 am, 12.30 pm and 2.30-3 pm is an “absolute nightmare.” “From parents’ vehicles to school vans and autos all are lined at the gate and honking is the least of our worries,” says Pallavi Kiran, whose house is near the back gate of Baldwin Girls High School. What makes this traffic congestion different from the traffic in rest of the city is the location and the width of the road. “Whitefield and IT corridors see traffic on the main roads while the traffic in our area is the residential lanes where school gates open to,” adds Pallavi. “We don’t want to complain instead want to work out a solution,” she adds. Another resident of Langford Town, Muralidhar, believes the traffic is getting worse in the neighbourhood because of schools losing playgrounds and open spaces for new buildings. Residents also cite fear on the new construction of Frank Anthony Junior School. “The school was a small one accommodating class 1 to 5 but next academic year will see the opening of standard 6 to 10. The school is located in Wellington street,” shares Nithya. No one from the school was available for comment.
Shopkeeper turns traffic angel in glowing orange
The chaotic congestion at CBD area particularly at Nagarajappa Circle turned a shopkeeper into a traffic regulator. Mahesh Shetty runs a 50-year-old shop named Balaji Store at the heart of Nagarajappa Circle. For the past seven years, he has been managing traffic on the circle during the peak hours. He keeps his orange whistle handy on his khaki pants. The residents call him an asset and Pallavi refers to his as the “knight in shining armour.” He was gifted a traffic orange raincoat by the resident association to encourage him. “I do it because I like helping the public,” says Mahesh. “My priority is simple. Ambulances should not be stuck in the jam,” he adds. Identifying the peak hours, he states that after 3 pm when school’s over his duty begins. Ashok Nagar police station identifies him as a “good man helping the police.”