Efficient traffic regulation can reduce travelling time: Saleem
Saleem’s designation will be same as the additional director general of police and a deputy inspector general rank officer will assist him, according to a state government order.
Weeks after Karnataka government appointed MA Saleem as the special commissioner to manage traffic in Bengaluru, one of the first directions he issued involved focusing more on traffic regulation than the enforcement drives. The policemen otherwise busy issuing challans during their surprise documentation checks are now deployed at several junctions across the city, particularly during peak hours, to control the traffic.
The result: Time spent during the traffic jams at one of the busiest junctions in the city — Hebbal flyover, where the traffic snarls went up to 20 minutes earlier— is now less than 8 minutes, data shows.
Saleem took charge as the special commissioner (traffic) on November 14.He designation will be same as the additional director general of police (ADGP) and a deputy inspector general (DIG) rank officer will assist him, according to a state government order.
The decision was taken by the state after several industrialists and investors had raised concerns over crippling traffic, particularly during Invest Karnataka 2022 meet. Following this, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, who also holds charge of Bengaluru development, prioritised traffic management.
Talking about the changes implemented since he took charge, Saleem said that one of the first steps was to change the priority from traffic enforcement to regulation. “We have ensured that police officers and other personnel are deployed on major roads and junctions. Our strength is close to the sanctioned strength, which means we can cover all major junctions in the city and have more than one personnel at several junctions. The idea is that if our officers are on the road, they can take quick decisions and ensure free flow of traffic,” he said.
Saleem said that ensuring traffic police personnel are manning busy junctions since 7 am has brought down traffic jams during peak hours. According to the officer, efficient traffic regulation can reduce travel time by 25%.
“The traffic density will also reduce with the metro service having coverage across the city. Metro’s phase II A and B projects as well as the suburban railway network will go a long way in decongesting the city,” he said.
According to him, around 90% of the staff at a traffic police station will be present on the road during peak hours. Each jurisdictional police station has identified 15-20 important points where traffic flow is maximum and needs to be monitored. Jurisdictional DCPs and ACPs will coordinate with local inspectors, discussing traffic flow, working of signal lights, pile-ups and so on, he said. “We are also taking the help of home guards in clearing wrong parkings outside commercial establishments like hotels, malls, pubs, restaurants and educational institutions,” he added.
Since long-term solutions take time, the traffic department is looking at short term solutions to fix the slow-moving traffic. “We have restricted movement of heavy vehicles like goods trucks through nine junctions during peak hours in the morning and evening. These are Hebbal flyover, Goraguntepalya, Silk Board, Iblur, Kadubeesanahalli, KR Puram, Sarakki (Kanakapura Road), KS Layout and Banashankari bus terminal. As per a study, traffic was not flowing smoothly at these junctions at peak hours due to the presence of heavy vehicles. Since the curbs, traffic flow has been smooth,” Saleem said.
To explain the process in place, Saleem took the example of the Hebbal flyover. The flyover connects the city to Kempegowda International Airport and the average time spent on the flyover during peak hours was 15-20 minutes. “This was one of the main concerns for us. I stood at the flyover for two days to find out what is wrong. We implemented three changes — one, we stopped the movement of heavy vehicles on the flyover during peak hours, made design changes under the flyover to re-route traffic and we are working on diverting more traffic to the airport using alternate roads. Within days of this, the average traffic jam has come down to 5 minutes,” he said.
Customised traffic mgmt plans
The officer added that just like Hebbal flyover local stations are creating customised traffic management plans for major junctions and other locations where large traffic jams are reported. For example, a five-point plan was introduced to decongest Outer Ring Road, which connects the city’s IT corridors.
Parking and encroachment of the service road, U-turns between Marathahalli bridge and Yemlur, and service road on the outer ring road from Hebbal flyover to Silk Board will be made one-way due to lack of the main carriageway because of BMRCL (Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited) works, are some of the significant changes which will come into effect on the ORR.
The officer however said that even though he has given orders to focus on traffic regulation than enforcement, the police will continue to book violators. He said smart cameras placed across the city will book the violators. “The use of tech will also bring a lot of transparency,” he said.
Saleem also has a plan for the non-payment of fines when the challans are sent by post. According to him, police will work with insurance companies to ensure the fine is paid. “Yellow board vehicles require a fitness certificate every year. We can easily achieve 100% compliance. We are also exploring the possibility of collecting fines through insurance firms since every vehicle requires to get their insurance renewed,” he said.