ON THE WRONG SIDE – Too many one-ways, too few to enforce rule, rue motorists

At the Ramwadi underpass, it’s peak weekday traffic an hour before noon on Thursday . The traffic is supposed to flow only in the KalyaninagarVimannnagar direction, but despite road signs at both ends notifying the stretch to be a one-way , bikers and some autorickshaw drivers were travelling towards Kalyaninagar.

The local traffic authorities have claimed a crackdown on driving on the wrong side of the road, yet no official was present to apprehend offenders at the time. According to motorists who use the underpass often protesting against such illegal driving is quite risky too.

“I regularly travel on this stretch and I have always seen people driving on the wrong side of the road. Very rarely , have I seen policemen booking offenders. It’s also dangerous to confront such people, who are driving on the wrong side and putting other motorists at risk, because they could get violent,“ says Nitin Kale, a businessman. The Ramwadi underpass is only a fraction of the wrong-side driving problem plaguing Vimannagar.

Despite the fact that the new traffic plan was implemented in the area -turning many roads into one-way stretches –motorists have continued to drive on the wrong side, despite clear signage notifying the permitted traffic flow. That is especially rampant on the Dattamandir intersection towards the Symbiosis stretch, which is perhaps the busiest in the area.

Some offenders caught in the act conceded that they were saving “time and fuel“. “I saw the one-way sign but I had to pick up a passenger from a society in a short time and the society was close to the point from where traffic was being diverted. So I entered the street from the wrong direction anyway ,“ said an autorickshaw driver, without disclosing his identity for fear of losing his registration with an aggregator.

Local activists pointed out that while the traffic police does enforce restrictions, their absence helps offenders take advantage of the situation. “ As far as I have seen, the police do a good job in booking those who violate traffic norms. However, as soon as the traffic police officials aren’t there at a particular location, people start to take advantage and drive on the wrong side. When they are caught, quite a few of these drivers are audacious enough to fight with the officials as well. The police should have better surveillance to catch these culprits,“ said Rashmi Narayan, secretary of the Vimannagar Residents’ Association.

Traffic authorities admit that driving on the wrong side is a problem at certain spots in the area yet they denied that the department isn’t doing enough. “We have booked 113 people for driving on the wrong side of the road on Wednesday and a similar number on Thursday . We are doing all we can to confront the menace.Such kind of driving is a problem at certain spots, like the Sanjay Park intersection, Dattamandir chowk, and Ramwadi underpass. We have identified these spots and posted policemen there in order to apprehend offenders,“ said police inspector Bajirao Muley of the Yerawada traffic division.

Sourace : TOI