Kashmir Scan, August 2014
By Ajaz Rashid
SP Traffic City says Kashmir valley has more than 4.5 lakh registered vehicles
‘Ten years ago a traffic cop tackled 50 vehicles, now he manages a thousand’
A 1999 KPS officer, Haseeb-ur-Rehman served in different police wings including CID, Executive Police, Armed Police and as Superintendent of Police Operations Kupwara. During the past three years, he has been serving as SP Traffic City and find it the most hectic and challenging job. Born in Baderwah, Rehman grew up with a passion to join police force one day to serve the society. He did his schooling from Sainik School Nagrota, Jammu and his post graduation from Jammu University. In an interview to Ajaz Rashid, the SSP Traffic City shares some information about his department and other developments taking place. Excerpts
The situation of traffic has turned from bad to worse in Srinagar City. What is the reason?
The main cause of bad traffic scenario is increasing traffic. Ten years ago a traffic constable had to tackle 50 to 100 vehicles but now a single traffic cop has to manage more than a thousand vehicles a day. If we compare the figures, we will see that the number of vehicles has increased manifolds during the past 10 to 15 years. In Kashmir valley, we have more than 4.5 lakh registered vehicles and during tourist and Yatra season, Srinagar City witnesses thousands of additional vehicles. The irony is that despite the ever-increasing vehicular traffic, Srinagar City has not seen any major expansion in terms of infrastructure and roads. Since years, we have the same road capacity and lack of sufficient parking places. Besides, a large number of educational institutions, business houses, shopping markets, government offices and even the secretariat are within the 5 to 6 kilometer radius, which adds more pressure to the city roads.
Traffic department is short of manpower. Is it making the departmental responsibilities weak and less effective?
It is a fact that 40 percent of the city is unmanned and we are able to cater only 60 percent of the traffic. We have been projecting the departmental requirement and I hope in the near future, we will get the required manpower. According to the government proposal, we will be provided manpower in three phases. The first phase meeting has been done, the second phase meeting is in the pipeline and for the third phase, we have projected for modern gadgets and technology assistance. The modern gadgets and high-tech assistance will help in managing the traffic to a greater extent.
Your department has recently purchased few hi-tech vehicles. How effective are those?
The hi-tech vehicles are doing well and are giving good results. Initially, we used the vehicles for the city routes but we didn’t find it much effective as they are made to check over speeding, drunken and rash driving, which is frequent on big roads. So we are using these vehicles on bye-pass and national highway where such traffic rule violations are frequent.
What steps are you taking to check late night traffic rule violations?
The duty hours of traffic police usually end by 9 pm and the violations are taking place after that. Now we have forwarded a proposal to the high court to extend the timing for movement of heavy vehicles including tipper, truck after 10 pm. So far we haven’t received any directions. Besides, we have proposed the higher police authorities to involve local police to curb the late hour traffic violations.
Are traffic rule violations going unchecked in Srinagar City?
It is not so actually. Traffic police is properly checking the traffic rule violations in and outside Srinagar City. According to the departmental figures, we are on daily basis challaning hundreds of vehicles who violates traffic rules. Among these, maximum vehicles are small passenger vehicles. Apart from that, we keep vigil on visible offences like use of mobile phones while driving, two-wheeler driving without crash helmets. But the problem starts when we go for challan against the overloaded passenger buses. That time passengers do not cooperate and demand alternate buses. To provide an alternate vehicle immediately is not possible for us and that compels us to show some relaxation toward those vehicles.
What about the metering of auto rickshaws?
RTO department is responsible for metering of auto rickshaws. They have to ensure installation of meters in auto rickshaws. They should make it mandatory both at the time of vehicle registration and at the time of vehicle fitness renewal. There is no doubt that meter installation in auto rickshaws will save common passengers from overcharging.
People allege that traffic cops are habitual of bribes and allow violations?
Since beginning, people have developed a concept that traffic cops are earning out of bribe but this is not true. Today is an era of technology and every person is carrying a camera phone. So whenever anybody finds some traffic police personnel asking bribes, they should record their activities and come to us. I assure you that strict action will be taken against the involved personnel. But simultaneously, I would like to say that people should drive their vehicles with proper documents so that nobody could ask them to pay money. I have seen that drivers without proper documents themselves offer money to police personnel.
Road accidents are increasing day by day. What is the reason and what is the department doing to control it?
The main causes of increasing road accidents are use of mobile phones, over speeding, rash and negligent driving. To stop the daily road accidents, we have installed road dividers and speed breakers at various accident prone roads and we got good results. During past two years, there is 30 percent decrease in the number of road accidents and casualties in Srinagar City. But the problem is increasing day by day in peripheral areas where the deployment of traffic police is less. The other reason for rising road accidents is issuance of driving license to less trained drivers. I think the RTO needs to be stricter issuing driving licenses. The license should be given only to a well trained driver. We are trying our level best to keep a proper check on traffic rule violations so that road accidents can be lowered as much as possible.
What steps have you taken to stop bikers doing stunts?
We have been directed by the Director General of Police to take strict action against stunt bikers. Besides, traffic police, local police has also been directed to keep vigil on stunt bikers. So far, we have seized hundreds of stunt bikes. But the youth involved in stunt biking are smart and they are doing these activities in neglected areas where they don’t find any police deployment. However, when we get any complaint regarding stunt biking, we take immediate action against the involved bikers.
Any message for Kashmir Scan readers?
I would like to appeal people that they should always follow traffic rules and avoid traffic rule violations.