Ideally a tar road laid should endure for good 10+years but the current apathy of roads speaks volumes about the sorry state of administration where corruption has grown multifold. Today the perpetrators no more hesitate to wear venality on their sleeves, as being corrupt is the new normal and the more the vice the more powerful the person is perceived to be!
For far too long we have discussed and debated about the pot holed roads, foam filled lakes and its menacing traffic but the influx of more traffic by each passing day seem to be unnerving Bengalureans and it is going to be worse with the current system in place! There are several reasons responsible for the asphyxiation of Bengaluru but the most atrocious one being the mismanagement by the authorities that has led us to witness this unavoidable evil, day in and day out. If the trajectory of traffic woes stem from too many vehicles, bad infrastructure, bad city planning and a dysfunctional municipal body on one hand, on the other hand we have erratic fellow drivers, rashly driven abhorrent BMTC buses that care a damn for anybody or any law, those imbecile unpredictable spooky two wheelers who could creep in or drift from nowhere and keep racing up to the signals to claim their medals until they have completely blocked the opposite side, and not to forget the admonishing attitudes of traffic mates which makes our daily lives nightmarish inch by inch, bumper to bumper.
This kind of menacing traffic woes is reducing our lifespans and productivity. It is also cutting down on the quality time spent with family which might lead to depression and frustration.
The foremost problem leading to traffic snarls today is the sanction of building approvals for big commercial malls right in the middle of already throttled traffic necks, If you take for example the Banaswadi-Whitefield ring road, no matter at whatever time of the day or night one attempts to glide through the stretch, one will invariably end up getting struck in the terribly slow moving traffic there. The major reason being the presence of Phoenix mall whose car happy customers occupy one half of the road as they line up to enter the mall while occupying half of the road, eating into the space of the otherwise broad roads leading all other commuters into desperation. In actuality the Government should impose traffic causing cess on such constructions and the concerned Government officers who sanctioned these types of nuisance projects should be penalized and transferred to the remotest village or should be made to chauffer drive citizens for 5years continuously from one end of the city to other on a daily basis for 8hours.
Another abhorrent aspect is of the never ending surge of apartment complexes where all and sundry are in the spree of developing apartment complexes. And most unfortunate is the springing of clusters of apartment and commercial complexes on narrow roads where hundreds of cars would trickle down from these complexes onto the same narrow lanes choking the traffic. Apparently Bengaluru should stop construction of any new apartment complexes or malls in the interest of reviving the green gardenia that it once was! Or at least the Government for a change should be prudent enough to allow Malls only on the outskirts of the city and put a limit on the upcoming number of apartment complexes and allow it only if the roads connecting them are broad enough to accommodate them all. A huge green lung space was gladed away to make space for Forum Mall on Kanakapura road which is also a highway and apparently many apartment gates open out to this road throwing traffic out of gear.
Who would want to drive amidst the chaotic lanes if ample public transport were available with smooth connectivity? In my opinion the grand metro rail projects are just an eye wash where hundreds of crores of rupees are siphoned off without seeing the light of its meaningful purpose, because all that the citizens needed was a decent connectivity with ample number of buses plying continuously across the length and breadth of the city ensuring that people don’t have to stuff up like cattle to meet their schedules. But the fact is that even after so many years there are not enough buses to meet the growing needs as newer hitech buses are futilely allocated in non-demand areas and to add to it the steep prices of the Volvo/ Vajra buses are anything but at par with Auto fares hence most Vajra buses ply empty as common people would rather opt for hiring a private vehicle from their door step rather than go in public transports when they have to pay the same price. So the very purpose of having additional buses is lost when at the end of the day it does not benefit the common man, which also includes the most harassed IT professional, owing to whose presence, Bengaluru is on the global maps today!
Also till date there is no bus route app or a streamlined chart or digital bus route information board put up at the local bus stops to assist the passenger to ascertain which bus goes where and which are the areas connected from a particular stop and at what time it would arrive, which would help people plan their day’s commute. Maybe it’s time to have an app dedicated to planning local bus commutes.
If the Government is unable to handle the public transport system it should at least aid and facilitate private players to pitch in to compete fairly along with Government transport services but unfortunately any private player who dares to make the price absolutely competitive is unduly harassed at the hands of red-tape and hegemonic government policies with deliberately tedious procedures making it an unfriendly affair altogether for anybody to even venture out there. I use the term deliberate because if consecutive governments ever intended to ease out the operations and encourage efficiency most obsolete policies could have been done with long ago but the fact that such policies prevail reveals the much prevalent intentions of the policy makers and keepers who refuse to make anything worth benefiting the common man.
The recent case of Zipgo, a private startup that took on the challenge of curbing the menace of traffic woes in Bengaluru city was shown the door demanding elaborate documental approvals which is not rocket science to decipher what it meant, the latest addition being curbing the cab pool services of Uber and Ola which effectively are signs that there is no body out there in the ruling state government who cares about the lifestyle disorder called traffic abuse which is costing the common man his time, money and health! If not the Cab pool, the Government could at least make it mandatory for all big private companies to provide compulsory shuttle services to their employees, which is the only way the Government could choose to positively harass the private sector while also benefitting the common man and thereby reducing traffic woes.
As if it were not enough there are those blood sucking banks that loans out lavishly and today Bengaluru is in such a state that even if the Karnataka Government comes up with some unrealistic proposals like odd-even formula, most houses already have two cars _ one with odd number and one perhaps with even! And it is not about elitism or prestige of owning 2cars but it is just that people have given up on getting any kind of bargain from a feeble public transport system endured by a lethargic government and there is little hope from the alternative transports like rikshaws or Taxis who are unresponsive or mostly seen as unreliable and unsafe.
If the idea of public transport were to be revamped in a big way in Bengaluru, then like exams even commuting will be a festivity where the Government could put a cap on the number of new rikshaws, two wheelers and cars hitting the streets. Cars and fuel should be made more expensive so that people compulsorily take public transport and two wheelers should become an absolute luxury like in foreign countries but all this only after a grand revamp with a thoughtfully well-knit network of connectivity and ample number of buses in sight, if at all it ever happens!
And to top the list of woes it is not at all unusual to come across fellow drivers engaging in a brawl right in the middle of the road, over a rear-end hit or crashing of the side mirror. But what is appalling these days is that if you are hit by the Cab driver class types then they will neither stop nor own up or bear the damage costs, instead they may pick up an assaulting tone of fight and flee, even if you report to the police, it is not of much help as such cases are neither filed nor followed up seriously.
Now if you reverse the situation and it is you _the salaried slightly educated idiot who has been taught to be nice and law abiding who cannot think of getting into a physical fight nor know the tactics to get the cop on your side, who bumps or even touches caressingly, the rear end of a cab or their likes, then chances are that you will be surrounded by a big group as it doesn’t take them much time to gather fellow folks around to aggravate things to the extent of using slang epithets or engulfing blows or threaten and make sure that they relieve you off from all cash. To counter such hooliganism you will get no recourse from the cop as he is mostly cognizant of such loots and knows for sure that he will get his fair share. The cops usually side with them and worse you may end up being harassed by the cop for questioning. If the intruder has given a phone number and left, chances are that he will never attend your call! The concept of amicably settling and agreeing to seek third party insurance claims is still a rarity. Setting up complain help desks or call centres for the same will be practically of no use, installation of more CCTVs and an additional deployment of a patrolling cop with more decision making powers across every street would perhaps help ease ugly tiffs but with current police forces facing shortage of staff maybe the states could consider recruiting eunuchs as traffic woes’ attendants or traffic managers and make their lives more meaningful relieving them of their horrendous routines of begging and harassing citizens in signals and shops.
Essentially our traffic woes are a culmination of lack of good public transport system, lack of good connectivity, lack of urban city planning, inept government bodies filled with crimson red-tape, an ineffective and ill-defined law which is not fool proof when it comes to traffic related woes, rampant corruption, lack of genuine concern among leaders and cops for the welfare of the common man, apathetic citizens and ever growing urbane challenges of fitting the classes of law abiding and the impatiently lawless, together!
Is the Bengaluru urban development department listening!!