Nagpur: Someone wisely said that if you can drive a vehicle on Nagpur roads, you can drive the vehicle anywhere in the world. Driving any vehicle on Nagpur roads is no less adventure than that of James Bond-007. Anyone who commutes on Nagpur city roads will encounter so many problems that maneuvering through the problems will make you feel like a James Bond.
Let us highlight a few of the problem creators.
Auto rickshaws are one of the most common public transport vehicles in the city. In the absence of a reliable Bus transport system, many are forced to rely on these Auto rickshaws to reach their destination. However, the drivers of these Auto rickshaws are a different breed altogether. On one hand they portray a picture of a very poor person who is trying to eke out a living by ferrying passengers, on the other hand, they display a ruffian’s image are cruel, dispassionate and inconsiderate about the problems of the fellow road users, ready to get into a any physical altercation with anyone who even question their attitude or weird behavior on the road. They hold the citizens to ransom with their weird demands by going on flash strikes.
These Auto rickshaws drivers also display a greedy person’s image. They start from one point with 4 or 5 passengers. While the driver of Auto rickshaw chooses to drive in the middle of the road (immaterial of the speed), the moment he spots any possible passenger, he will veer of the Auto rickshaw to the left with no consideration for the speed in which the other road users are coming from behind.
One can also find these unscrupulous drivers of Auto rickshaw hoarding around busy squares like Rani Jhansi Square or Variety Square. They solicit customers standing right next to traffic police kiosks. They park their Auto rickshaw in a haphazard manner on the road (two or three) in such a manner that nearly 75% of the road is occupied by them. This behavior of theirs results in a bottle-neck like effect on the junction preventing smooth flow of the traffic.
To add to this menace, these Auto rickshaws drivers can also be seen soliciting passengers on city bus stops causing city bus to park on the road making the otherwise narrow road narrower. While speaking to Nagpur Today, the In-Charge of Star Bus situated near Madan Gopal High School at Rani Jhansi Square said that in spite of complaining about the Auto rickshaw drivers and their soliciting passengers to the authorities, no action has been initiated against them.
While speaking to Nagpur Today, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Bharat Tangde said that any action initiated by the Traffic Department is seen as cruel and inconsiderate to these so called poor Auto rickshaw drivers and being termed as “Gareeb key peth mey lath marna” (hitting the poor man in his stomach).
One can find street vendors occupying almost the entire foot-path of busy road junctions including Rani Jhansi Square and Variety Square. A few stray tea-shop (Chai Walah Tapri) or a fruit juice vendor (Nimbu Pani Walah) too exists on foot-paths on other road stretches. The people on foot on these stretches too are sparse. But the foot-path on these busy road junctions including Rani Jhansi Square and Variety Square need to be cleared off these road-side vendors selling goods and apparel like jeans, T-shirts, shirts, scarfs, caps, sandals, chappals, etc. This causes the citizens on foot to walk on the road and face the peril of becoming victims of road mishaps.
On one fine morning or late in the afternoon, the Enforcement wing of Anti-Encroachment wing of Nagpur Municipal Corporation swings into action and starts to cease hand-carts or goods from these road-side vendors. However, within 10 minutes of their action of removing encroachments on the foot path they are back.
An official from the police department asked that would a person be able to come out of Central Jail within 10 minutes, the answer would be definitely no. He then went on to ask, how then are these offenders or encroachers able to come back within 10 minutes? It is simple, they flee with their goods and hand-carts inside the compound of some building and once the drive moves away from the place, they return back to their places. The officials of the Anti-Encroachment Department of NMC can impose a fine equivalent to quarter the cost of the total goods present in the road-side vendors shop or cart, but they are left off with a small fine of Rs 100 or 150 and their carts are returned back to them. The official claimed that on more than one occasion, the seized goods and carts do not even reach the place where they are stored in NMC’s custody. On the way itself, a deal is struck and they goods and the cart are released.
Now returning back to the footpaths, since they are occupied or encroached by these vendors, the citizens on foot have to walk on the road blocking the smooth flow of traffic. Once can see that the foot-path on the entire stretch from Rani Jhansi Square to Variety square is occupied by street vendors.
If this is not enough, wait till we tell you about the pot holes or craters which one will encounter on many Nagpur Roads. Many senior persons complain that they have developed spondylitis because of riding their two-wheelers on these poor roads.
When are the Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner going to take serious cognizance of the problems faced by the citizens while traversing on Nagpur Roads?
What is proposed?
- An auto-rickshaw stand on every square where alone can the auto-rickshaw be parked and the driver should not solicit passengers in bus-stands or on squares.
- Auto-rickshaws should ply only on meters and should ferry their autos to any destination which the passenger wants in the city. No additional passengers can be picked up enroute.
- Roads should be even and all pot holes should be repaired.
- All foot-paths to be cleared off from Street vendors, or families of Pardhi tribes selling flowers, soft-toys and other goods.
By Samuel Gunasekharan.
Pics by Vinay Nimgade