Quite a few busy junctions in Thiruvananthapuram city are devoid of the much needed traffic lights or traffic police.

No traffic light few policemen The unmanned busy junctions of Thiruvananthapuram
news Civic issue Tuesday, July 30, 2019 - 19:09

The Sri Mulam Club junction in Thiruvananthapuram has three roads joining it – from Vazhuthacaud, from Vellayambalam, and from Cotton Hill. The last said is a school – one of the oldest in the city. Mornings and evenings, when the school starts for the day and ends, girls in green and white uniform are everywhere on the road, or in the vehicles picking up or dropping them. And Vazhuthacaud being a busy centre of sorts, there are all kinds of commuters at all times. The only problem is, the traffic light at this junction has been defunct for a long time.

“It’s been off for some time,” says Renjith Kumar, CI (North) of Thiruvananthapuram Traffic Police, vaguely. He can’t give the exact reason, but there is a traffic policeman deployed at that point, at all times, he says. “He is supposed to be there from 8 am to 8 pm,” Renjith says.


Sri Mulam club junction at a less busy hour

However, the chaos at this junction is not unique. 

There are certain traffic points identified by the police for deploying traffic personnel. Renjith provides a list of these points, but it doesn’t include the Tennis Club junction in Kowdiar, which is crowded through the day, with three roads joining it – from Vellayambalam, from Kowdiar, and from Devaswom Board.

“We haven’t got reports of any traffic blocks in that junction, neither of accidents. The accidents that happen in the Vellayambalam-Kowdiar stretch are mostly due to rash driving, young people racing their cars and bikes because the road is good,” Renjith says. The stretch is notorious for over-speeding and several infamous accidents – including the one that killed Adarsh, the 24-year-old son of the SP Grand Days hotel owner.

Another busy junction – the DPI near Jagathy, where the road divides into four, is always in a state of confusion with vehicles crossing an island separating the road either way, and running straight into the main road, thick with buses all the time. “There is a policeman deployed there during the peak hours - 8.30 to 10.30 in the morning and 5 to 6.30 in the evening, but not during the rest of the day,” Renjith admits.

MK Zulfiquer, Asst Commissioner of Police, Traffic South Subdivision, says that the reason such busy junctions are unmanned is because of the lack of manpower. “That is an important reason. What we have now is a system that was put in place 10 years ago. But so many more vehicles are on the road now that you can’t expect the traffic to be controlled with the same strength of policemen from 10 years ago. Another problem is the mentality of the people who are always in a hurry, and everyone from all the different roads try to move at the same time,” he says. Commuters can often be found in the middle of one road, when people from another road cut through.

Traffic lights are an option but that's not in the control of the police. “The Kerala Road Fund Board does the study on where it is needed, and Keltron (India's largest electronics corporation) installs it,” Zulfiquer adds.

The Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) Chief Executive Officer MN Jeevaraj says that all the roads do not come under them, some are under the Public Works Department. He passes on a list of the roads that they manage. Among a few busy junctions identified, the Tennis Club junction comes under the KRFB. “We haven’t received any such request from the traffic police, as far as I know. Traffic lights are installed when requests are made, and taking into account the traffic count of the junction,” he says.

There are many factors to be taken into consideration  – the traffic density, whether there is congestion, if it is a three way or four way junction and so on, says PWD Chief Engineer Darlene D’cruz. “When it is a major project, traffic signals will be put up as part of the project. But otherwise it is done by the motor police in association with the road department.”

The ball is tossed this way and that. A civilian who finds the risks too much – seriously, taking your vehicle forward at any of these busy junctions is at your own risk – can raise it, Darlene says, with the Roads department, but they will need to study the many factors she mentioned before taking a decision. 

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