It is nearly two months since school children took to the streets in an unprecedented display of disciplining the chaotic traffic situation in the capital and elsewhere. The incident -- a glaring mockery of the traffic management in the country -- was likely to prompt the authorities to sit up and mend the situation to some sense of orderliness. Unfortunately, there has not been any visible sign of improvement either in traffic management on the city streets and highways or in the operation of public transports. Moreover, fear of police action against buses without fitness and other related certifications has led many bus owners to take their vehicles off the roads causing serious problem for commuters.
The Prime Ministers' Office (PMO) last month issued a 17-point directive asking the authorities to urgently take up certain measures that among others included not allowing buses to operate on contract basis, displaying drivers' and helpers' names with their pictures, driving licence and mobile numbers on buses. The directive also wanted immediate compliance to the instruction of keeping doors of running buses closed and allowing passengers to get on and off only at designated stoppages. More than a month has elapsed, and it is clear the law enforcers have done little to have the PMO directives complied with. Commuters are of the opinion that even if the traffic authority could persuade the bus drivers to stop only at the designated spots and not pick up passengers other than the stoppages, the situation could have been much better.
Flouting the PMO directive, that too following the bizarre scenes on the capital's streets, speaks volumes for the utter lack of control defining the public transport system in the country, for which the transport operators alone cannot be blamed. It seems that the traffic department, not focused to any long-term solution, is at best resorting to routine actions like inspecting drivers' licences and fitness certification of private and public transports. The city streets are free for all as before, and jaywalkers are as though in full freedom to defy whatever very little is demanded of them while on the streets, even at busy intersections. Coupled with these, unfinished road repair work in important locations rendering them accident-prone-a victim of it being the Press Club-Topkhana road segment-- has further added to the commuters' misery.
The traffic department has reportedly filed thousands of cases against buses and other vehicles in last month alone. This has left no impression on the road anarchy as it takes more than filing cases to fix the system and demands strict vigilance on how the drivers of public and private vehicles operate. Equally important is to persuade, and if necessary, force the pedestrians into behaving as the very basic traffic rules want them to. No country in the world tolerates defiance of traffic rules and penalises the offenders, drivers and pedestrians alike, for the slightest of mistakes-- willful or otherwise. One hopes the country's traffic authorities follow the rules themselves.
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