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Delhi-NCR residents double as road safety officers to help traffic cops

Residents of Delhi-NCR are volunteering to manage traffic at busy intersections to ensure that human life is saved.

delhi Updated: Aug 10, 2017 12:52 IST
Naina Arora
Naina Arora
Hindustan Times
Volunteer,Traffic,Dorris Fransis
Most of these RSOs are balancing their work life with this social responsibility.(Manoj Verma/HT Photo)

‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world,’ Mahatma Gandhi once said. Some residents of Delhi-NCR have made this their mantra. Having braced traffic snarls for ages, now the citizens have taken upon themselves to volunteer and manage traffic at different intersections in the city.

Come rain or harsh sun, or any health concern, these volunteers remain undeterred and double as Road Safety Officers (RSO) to ensure that the traffic situation is under control. We speak to some such RSOs to know what the job demands.

‘Come rain or storm, we do our job’

Kunal Oberoi has been working as a Road Safety Officer for a year now. (Manoj Verma/HT)

Kunal Oberoi, a 32-year-old businessman, who has been working as an RSO for over a year now, shares, “I manage traffic for five hours a day, during morning and evening rush. It’s difficult in monsoon, but chaahe baarish ho ya toofan hum nahi hilte apni jagah se... We manage the traffic in congested areas of Gurgaon including Huda City Centre and Golf Course Road.”

Oberoi admits that the situation on the road is only worsening. “There are challenges when one manages traffic because you come across people with varying temperaments. Some people appreciate our efforts, some others refuse to cooperate, and start abusing. But that’s fine. We try to manage the situation in the best possible way,” he says.

People look at me like they have never seen a woman. Some even whistle’

Kaeshika Dewani believes in educating people on traffic safety. (Manoj Verma/HT)

An entrepreneur, Kaeshika Dewani has been working as an RSO for three years now. “My son had joined summer camp in 2014, and I asked Bharti Arora, Gurgaon’s former Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), if I could contribute in clearing the jams. I didn’t know how to manage traffic, but I learnt from my seniors and Traffic Police. Like how, to stop the traffic, one has to whistle once. And to make the traffic move, one has to continue to whistle,” she says.

When people come from the wrong side, she tells them that they are not just hurting themselves, but others too. Auto drivers give excuses such as, ‘CNG khatam ho gaya’.But we are trying to do our best; and hope to see a change in the years to come,” she says.

Dewani adds that people are surprised to see a woman manage traffic. “They look at me as if they’ve never seen a woman. At times, they even whistle... Wrong-side driving is a menace in Gurgaon,” she says.

‘People give us thumbs up’

RSO Rajive Nandwani is a director with an MNC. (Manoj Verma/HT)

Rajive Nandwani, a director with an MNC, began his stint as a Road Safety Officer (RSO) eight years ago, at a drive held against drunken driving. “We felt the need for something to be done. I feel satisfied knowing that we citizens are contributing a small bit in ensuring that the traffic moves smoothly in Gurgaon,” he says. How does he help? “We assist the Gurgaon Traffic Police, be it working at a chowk or devising circular routes and diversions. Like any job, there are highs and lows in this job, too. We feel good when people appreciate us. The best part is when people give us a thumbs up seeing our efforts. That keeps us going,” says Nandwani.

‘Gaali zyada milti hai, compliments kam’

38-year-old Preet Singh says they often look up congested areas on Google maps and plan accordingly. (Manoj Verma/HT)

An MNC employee, 38-year-old Preet Singh also doubles as an RSO. “Whenever I see traffic jam, I take out my RSO jacket and start helping people. I’ve been with the team for two years now, and have managed traffic at Huda City Centre, Rajiv Chowk, Signature Tower and Old-Delhi Road. My training is a result of gathering inputs from my peers. We monitor congestion on Google and plan the drive accordingly,” he says.

What’s the biggest challenge they face? “In Gurgaon, there’s no traffic sense. Everybody is in a hurry! Sabko ghar jaldi pahuchna hai. People abuse more then they appreciate,” he says.

‘I feel happy to help fellow citizens’

Raj Kumar Yadav says being an RSO is an opportunity to give back to the society. (Manoj Verma/HT)

Raj Kumar Yadav, who is working with a French MNC in Delhi, has been part of decongestion drives at IFFCO Chowk, Shankar Chowk, Signature Tower and Huda City Centre. Serving as an RSO for over six years, he says, “I’d face frequent traffic jams on my way back home. But rather than cribbing about the system, I channelled my concern into positive action that can make a difference. Our contribution is not just in traffic management, but also in the sphere of infrastructure lapses, road and traffic engineering, and educating on traffic rules. I’ve been able to take time towards the noble initiative because my company appreciates my contribution towards traffic management. If Gurgaon starts following traffic rules, 50% of the traffic problems will be solved.” Yadav recalls the time when one of the RSOs met with an accident. “A green corridor was created to help.”

‘People’s love keeps me going’

58-year-old Dorris Francis has been manning traffic at Khoda Chowk, Ghaziabad since she lost her daughter in a road accident. (HT Photo)

Dorris Francis, a 58-year-old started manning traffic at Khoda Colony, Ghaziabad, in 2003, after witnessing an accident which involved young girls. Little did she know that one day she’d lose her daughter after a similar tragedy in 2009. With a stick in her hand and a whistle in her mouth, this feisty lady tries to dissect the pedestrians and vehicles converging at the Som Bazaar intersection.

“In November 2009, my husband, daughter and I met with an accident. A speeding car hit our auto and my daughter succumbed to injuries in July 2010. Humne socha ki hamari beti iss haadse mein chal basi, lekin aisa kisi aur ke saath naah hoye (What happened with our daughter shouldn’t happen with anyone else). Since then, my husband and I started volunteering at Khoda Chowk,” says Francis.

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, but still volunteers to manage traffic every day, from 7am onwards. “I focus on the pedestrians as they are vulnerable. I keep my whistle and stick handy and whenever I see traffic in Delhi, I begin to manage it. I come back home when I feel unwell,” she adds.

Does the unruly traffic ever scare her? “I am not scared when I am on the road! Mera dar meri beti ne nikal diya. (My daughter took away my fear). It doesn’t matter if I get hurt in the process of managing traffic because what matters is that there shouldn’t be accidents. I will continue to manage traffic till my last breath,” says Francis.

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First Published: Aug 10, 2017 12:52 IST