In a city, where the average daily accident rate is as high as four and the annual toll nearly 100, the men who matter most are left handicapped by a couple of defunct breathalysers, rickety bikes and fluorescent batons at their disposal.
The 130-odd traffic monitors under East Singhbhum district police, who man no less than 500,000 vehicles on Jamshedpur’s thoroughfares every day, have no laser speed guns or power bikes to nail road rogues, courtesy a touted but defective modernisation programme for the men in uniform.
A senior officer of the district traffic cell minced no words to say that their will to streamline traffic movement in and around the steel city was grimly strangled by red tape.
“There have been times when we have had no choice but to stare helplessly at speeding bikers or trucks at important crossings in Bistupur, Sakchi and Golmuri. We have the authority to impose spot fines, but before that we need to catch and nail the offender. We have no means to do so,” he said.
According to him, the district police had time and again petitioned the home department for at least a couple of laser speed guns, sports bikes and more manpower. “Nothing has happened till date.”
In April this year, then DSP (traffic) G.N. Singh had also claimed that five speed guns had been procured by the police headquarters in Ranchi for Jamshedpur through an open tender. However, an official at the police headquarters confirmed that no equipment had been purchased. “There seems to be some sort of communication gap between Ranchi and Jamshedpur,” he said.
While speed guns remain elusive, four breath analysers — supplied to the district police department by the headquarters in 2009 — are currently lying defunct.
“Besides, the four bikes we have are old and, hence, useless in chasing speedsters. The only thing that still works is the light baton. But, you can’t catch a speeding truck with that. To run the traffic control machinery effectively, we need adequate number of man and machine. Two laser speed guns and a dozen fast bikes are urgently needed,” said the traffic cell officer.
He further said that umbrella and fluorescent jackets would be added advantages for traffic constables working in rain and sun, as well as in the dark. “Once all these logistics gaps are plugged, we will be in a position to check accidents on city roads that are mostly triggered by speeding vehicles. If not, bloodspill will continue,” he added.
So far this year, 120 people have died in more than 200 road mishaps in Jamshedpur.
Arguably, the traffic wing of East Singhbhum police is one of the most industrious among forces, which generate an average monthly revenue of Rs 6 lakh by means of spot fines against parking rogues, triple-riders and helmet offenders. The stunning revenue has not been matched by any other district police force in the state yet.
The question is whether the home department and police headquarters wake up to problems impeding their efficiency.
Director-general of police G.S. Rath said an apex committee was very much in place to look into all such proposals from various district forces.
“Providing hi-tech gadgets and equipment for better traffic policing comes under the police modernisation programme. We have a committee to look into the matter,” he said, conceding that Jamshedpur was a city that deserved special attention.
Rath himself heads the apex committee.
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