Is it the responsibility of the traffic police to remind reckless riders to not risk their lives? If the situation at JJ flyover in south Mumbai – where the traffic police have been standing guard since 2010 to keep bikers off the accident-prone stretch – is any indication, most seemed to have assumed so.
A case in point could be traffic police inspector Namrata Lokhande, who stands for four hours at the start of flyover with her team to ensure bikers don’t lose their lives. “Around 5pm, bikers start leaving from their office,” says Lokhande, in charge of the Azad Maidan traffic division, who has been doing the duty of reminding bikers to take the road below the flyover for more than a year.
Bikers take the flyover during morning and evening peak hours. Two constables are posted at the north-end of the flyover at the junction where Lalbaug flyover ends and marks the commencing point of the 2.4-km flyover connecting Nagpada to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
“I fail to understand why they take the flyover even though they know it is risky,” said a constable from the division.
The traffic police have put up a signboard announcing the ban on two-wheelers since April 1, 2010, but that has failed to deter them. Of the five traffic divisions in south Mumbai, Azad Maidan and Pydhonie top the list of rash driving cases in 2016. JJ flyover falls under the jurisdiction of these two divisions.
The serpentine flyover has sharp curvatures on the flyovers. According to an analysis of the accidents reported on the flyover carried out by the traffic police, most were at the Mandavi post office curve on the south-end. The other curvature near Minara Masjid is the second most dangerous turn. Officials said bikers fail to gauge the sharp curve, leading to a mishap.
Speaking about the daily struggle between the traffic police and unruly bikers, a senior officer at the traffic police headquarters said, “Change is gradual and it will take some time for bikers to fall in line, but they need to start thinking about their families. It is not practical for our people to stand there around-the-clock.”
Bikers use the flyover to avoid congestion along the Mohammed Ali Road.
Another problem is the constables’ shifts end at 9 pm, making the route free for bikers. At night, bikers come to the flyover for a joyride. Violations on the flyover at night range from speeding to driving in the wrong lane. As the dividers are not very high, some bikers cross on to the other side at night, traffic officials said.
“We get into arguments with them daily. More than half of them are educated. They are lawyers, or executives working in posh offices in south Mumbai. But they simply don’t care,” said an officer.