HYDERABAD: Elders, women and children are often seen being helped cross the city roads, which are dubbed as death traps, by a friendly traffic constable manning a junction. But, with the authorities deciding to go ‘copless’ at all city junctions over the next couple of years and with the programme having already started at major junctions as a pilot project, the question arises if it would not disadvantage pedestrians who struggle to negotiate the chaotic city traffic on a daily basis?
As it has recently been reported in these columns, the ‘copless’ junctions will be monitored by surveillance cameras as well as mufti policemen. At present, the concept is being experimented at 10 junctions in the city. Sure, the initiative is intended only for motorists.
Now, the statistics available from Hyderabad and Cyberabad traffic police put pedestrians as the worst victims of city roads. Year after year, the number of people losing their lives in road accidents in the city has not seen any decline.
Out of the 254 lives lost on city roads in Hyderabad till the end of August this year, as many as 121 were those of pedestrians. Similarly, during the same period in Cyberabad, as many as 284 pedestrians have died in road accidents.
Between 2012 and 2014, as many as 824 pedestrians have died walking on roads in Hyderabad and 922 in Cyberabad.
Jitender, additional Commissioner of police (traffic), Hyderabad, claims that fatalities on roads has come down marginally in 2014. He, however, maintains ‘copless’ management of traffic at road junctions is not a negative approach.
“It is in vogue in world-class cities. Everyone there follows road discipline and a lot of preference is given to pedestrians. Our concept is that instead of police enforcing road discipline, citizens should do it themselves,” explains Jitender.
At present, over 2,700 traffic constables man traffic at junctions everyday. “We are creating a lot of awareness among citizens and have a lot more to do. That apart, we need supporting infrastructure in place in order to bring down pedestrian fatalities,” the ACP says.
It is a fact that a few existing foot over-bridges (FOBs) have disappeared from the city and the proposed new ones have not taken shape. No new zebra crossings and other markings on roads have been taken up in the last one year. Footpaths continue to be abysmal and insufficient. New signages and pedestrian-friendly signals have, however, been put in place.
Authorities believe firmly that unless pedestrians are made to shed the habit of crossing the road wherever he/she likes, there would not be any marked improvement in the situation.