Regulating traffic is becoming chaotic and the under-staffed Traffic department and its few traffic policemen are doing a commendable job, Amir Rafi writes
On a chilly rainy afternoon, a group of traffic policemen was busy clearing a massive traffic jam in the heart of Srinagar city. Wearing blue jackets and long boots, the men were trying to ease the gridlock, which has become a common feature in the city. Their hands were turning red due to the cold as they waved frantically at the motorists. Another traffic cop was clearing the way for an ambulance stuck in the jam.
Meanwhile, Abdul Salaam was standing at a shop-front. Watching the mess, he was communicating with fellow cops over his transmitter. While other cops were too busy to talk, Salaam could spare some time to speak.
“We have to work tirelessly 12 hours a day. My duty starts at 8 am and finishes at 8 pm,” he says looking toward another traffic cop.
Moreover, these policemen do not get much time to enjoy their personal lives.
“Furthermore, our workload increases during the holidays, which overburdens us,” he says.
People always complain about the traffic mess and blame the traffic cops for being the main reason for traffic jams.
However, the job of a traffic policeman is not that easy.
Sometimes, these cops have to face the wrath of both the drivers and the commuters.
Riyaz Ahmad was also busy in clearing traffic.
Sparing some time to speak, he says, “There are different types of people, some may understand you but some are ill-tempered. You have to be patient because this job demands fortitude.”
Besides managing unabated traffic, traffic cops have to bear the brunt of harsh weather.
“We have to be prepared for all weather conditions but working in rain and snow is more difficult because there is a dearth of traffic police booths in our city,” Riyaz Ahmad says.
While all other people cover their mouth and nose at a dusty place, it is a routine for a traffic cop to breathe in that condition.
“Dearth of safety apparatus makes us prone to many fatal diseases,” says Sukhwinder Singh.
“From the morning till evening, we are exposed to dust and pollution. We also have to change our uniform on a daily basis because of the dust that gets accumulated on it,” he says. “There is also a dearth of manpower in the Traffic department. If we look at the pace at which vehicles are increasing, our manpower is less. This creates chaos in traffic management. In addition, it also increases our workload.”
While many traffic cops came out with their problems, none among them was willing to disclose his identity.
All of them wished to remain anonymous.
However, when Abdul Salaam is asked about the prime motivation that helps them in doing this job, he sarcastically replies, “We need no motivation to do this job. It may seem a low profile job but it’s worth serving your own people rather than abusing others.”
Apart from the unskilled drivers and vendors, locals also contribute to creating traffic chaos by not following the traffic rules.
“Local commuters and drivers should follow all traffic rules. It will not only help in the smooth flow of traffic but also lead to a relaxation in our work,” he says.