The dreaded traffic congestion at Posta in Burrabazar due to its narrow roads, further constricted by parking of large number of goods vehicles for loading and unloading of supplies for the flourishing spices market, is actually a thing of past. Thanks to a little initiative by officers of Kolkata Traffic Police to chalk out an alternate plan, a firm hand and taking the local businesses into confidence, went a long way into easing traffic congestion to free Posta from its past notoriety. The easing of traffic snarls at Posta had a rippling effect and opened up the subsequent bottlenecks at Brabourne Road, Strand Road, Strand Bank Road, Kalakar Street and Cotton Street which were lined with hawkers and slow moving goods vehicles. In this issue of Kolkata on WHEELS, we spoke to OC, Howrah Bridge Traffic Guard, Mr Raj Kumar Singh to know more about the steps taken to miraculously ease the chock-a-block traffic jams in one of the most congested neighbourhood of the city
Mr Raj Kumar Singh took charge as OC, Howrah Bridge Traffic Guard in July last year and single handedly changed the traffic dynamics at Posta. In the past, the adamant local businessmen of Burrabazar area were against any attempt to impose traffic restrictions of any sorts to ease the compounding traffic problems. Mr Singh started making rounds after 10pm when traffic was light to chalk out alternate traffic movement plans. Once he made up his mind there was no going back and his superiors gave their full support on the issue.
The first initiative involved removing hawkers from the corridors of Pagaya Patti and Tripal Patti which was a major contributor to the traffic congestion in the area. “Removing hawkers from the roadside opened up more space for the traffic to flow. Akhilesh Chaturvedi, DC (Central), supported my efforts to this end and a meeting was called with business owners and the alternate traffic plan was explained to them. The point was fairly clear for all to understand; we wanted traffic to flow smoothly without harming business in the area” Singh explained.
At Brabourne Road, hawkers were removed from the eastern flank and a barrier was put till Jackson Lane Crossing near the Portuguese Church. Similar actions were taken at Kalakar Street and Cotton Street which resulted in opening up of further road space. The flower market in Jagannath Ghat on Strand Bank Road was also confined to its limits allowing smooth traffic movement. Addl CP (I) Vineet Goyal suggested buses should run on Strand Bank Road in case of traffic emergency.
Apart from hawkers encroaching upon precious road space, the slow moving vehicles further added to the commuters’ woes by plying on both lanes of the roads and eating into about 6ft of available road space while loading and unloading goods. Now, the goods carrying minitrucks and vans follow the route via Posta, Strand Road, KK Tagore Street and MG Road. The route is one way for even these slow moving vehicles. This has opened up nearly 6ft road space.“The vans approaching the market from both sides and loading and unloading goods while encroaching upon a large portion of the road, contributed largely to the traffic congestion in the area. My job as the OC, Traffic Guard is to ensure smooth flow of traffic and that is exactly what I did by converting these into one way roads and also by refusing to let local businessmen to occupy 4ft road space for parking these vehicles to handle their supplies” said Raj Kumar Singh.
Illegal parking of trucks was dealt with a firm hand from Nawab Lane Crossing till the crossing of KK Tagore and Strand Road. Double lane parking was strictly prohibited from Strand Bank Road while a single dedicated lane has been earmarked for slow moving goods vehicles by barricading a part of the road between Posta Crossing, Kalakar Street and KK Tagore Street Crossing.
This entire scheme took 6 months to complete and resulted in miraculous improvment in speed of vehicles on Kalakar Street, MG Road and Strand Road. The slow moving vehicles are only allowed to move in a single direction at Posta, Strand Road, KK Tagore Street and MG Road and almost 18-20 cars ply on the roads of Posta per minute. Once again bus drivers are happy with the faster traffic movement and taxi drivers are willing to ferry passengers to these locations. In order to maintain this on long run, police personnel have been stationed all across these roads and there are regular rounds by the officers as well. “It came as a little surprise when hawkers and local businessmen cooperated with us. Initially, they had resisted but once we explained the entire plan to them and assured them their business would not get affected, they agreed. Certainly this is a win-win situation for the businessmen and the motorists as well. The goods vehicles can move with their goods through the dedicated channels we have earmarked for them while the motorists can enjoy the wider congestion-free road” Singh explained.
The easing of traffic snarls at Posta which had been a pressing problem for all these decades show how a little initiative and firm hand can go a long way in solving a knotty traffic congestion.