Manning the post for hours on end, be it under scorching sun or rain; controlling hundreds of commuters or streamlining VIP movements, an average day in the life of a Traffic police personnel is a demanding one - both physically and mentally. Adding to the stress of long hours of standing is the compulsion to hold their bladders since toilets are not simply available nearby.
For women, the problem becomes acute because it is not just physical, it is social too. Over the years, Odisha Police has been trying to address such issues but a major step was taken on Thursday when Director General of Police Bijay Kumar Sharma instructed installation of eight mobile toilets in Bhubaneswar.
Although it has started on a pilot basis, the decision is huge and contributes significantly towards empowerment of women in the force. The decision coming from Sharma is not surprising because it was he who had inducted women personnel in Traffic Police during his stint at Police Commissioner of Twin City between 2008 and 2012.
Traffic personnel, especially women, have welcomed the decision and said this will make long duty hours far more comfortable. So far, one mobile toilet has been installed at Acharya Vihar and three
more would be in place in next couple of days at Jayadev Vihar, Nicco Park and Nalco Square.
At least 400 traffic personnel, 70 of whom are women, are deployed at 52 traffic posts across the Capital. Besides, there are over 190 student traffic volunteers, including 100 women. Renuka Pradhan, a Traffic constable, is very happy with the decision of mobile toilet installation because she and her fellow personnel used to face a lot of hurdles due to lack of public toilets near traffic posts.
"There are no public toilets near the traffic posts at Housing Board Square, Power House Square, Nicco Park, Shastri Nagar, and others. We are glad that the mobile toilets are being installed for the traffic personnel," she added.
Another traffic personnel, Mamta Rani Nayak, said this step has increased a sense of security among the women. “When there are no public toilets near the traffic posts, we are compelled to use toilets at private establishments and even houses. This makes us feel uncomfortable and insecure. With installation of mobile toilets, we will be spared that awkwardness. It gives us dignity," she added.
The decision to install mobile toilet was part of State Government's 5T initiative to bring about change in day-to-day policing. “The DGP initiated the programme since the police community is a big team, a family. It is a progressive step, especially, towards empowering women traffic personnel,” DCP, Traffic, Sagarika Nath said.
Not just women personnel, for their men counterparts, the mobile toilets have come as a big relief. A traffic constable, preferring anonymity confided that many of them are forced to relieve themselves in open spaces when toilets are not available nearby.
“We would change to plainclothes from uniform in apprehension that someone might just spot and embarrass us. Not many can understand the dilemma we go through. And for our women counterparts, it was really awkward. Mobile toilets installation is such a huge decision,” he said.
Sources said, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is also mulling to launch toilet on wheels for the people in the city. The civic body will launch the facility by engaging about 10 vehicles. The police have also requested the Corporation to halt at least two such vehicles near traffic posts in the city.
"Police Commissioner Sudhanshu Sarangi and other officers will review the project and a call on its expansion will be taken accordingly," Nath said. Expenses towards maintenance of the eight mobile toilets will be incurred by the Commissionerate Police.
Each mobile toilet has four compartments, two each for men and women traffic personnel. The mobile toilet is equipped with a water tank, wash basin, exhaust fan and light for the convenience of the users.