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Updated: November 8, 2013 11:37 IST

Traffic wardens in Kochi tread a tightrope

Staff Reporter
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Traffic wardens, who streamline traffic flow in the city and help schoolchildren and pedestrians, work under stressful conditions. They are constantly exposed to toxic vehicle fumes. Photo: Vipin Chandran
The Hindu Traffic wardens, who streamline traffic flow in the city and help schoolchildren and pedestrians, work under stressful conditions. They are constantly exposed to toxic vehicle fumes. Photo: Vipin Chandran

Traffic police wardens deployed in various parts of the city are finding themselves with the tough task of working under extremely stressful conditions, while also having to deal with unruly members of the public.

Saturday’s incident in which a woman traffic warden on duty was allegedly assaulted by a man throws light on the many problems that traffic wardens face.

The Kochi city police have 50 traffic wardens under its wing. The wardens are hired on contract basis for 90 days and are deployed in various parts of the city. Though they are crucial to maintaining traffic discipline in the city, they do not have the authority of the police, and are often not taken seriously by motorists.

Besides the police, external agencies also hire traffic wardens under the rules provided by the police. With the Kochi Metro Rail work on in full swing in the city, several traffic wardens have been posted around the city to ease traffic deviations.

“Every traffic warden in the city, including those hired by external agencies, is hired under a fixed set of rules. They are all paid the same salary and work the same hours,” said Baby Vinod K.S., Assistant Commissioner, Traffic West.

The reality

Traffic wardens posted in the city said the reality was otherwise. “Those employed under the police get regular breaks in between their duty time. I have to work straight from 8.00 a.m. to 12 noon in the morning and then in the afternoon after lunch break,” said a traffic warden in the city. Wardens under other agencies often have to work on holidays as well to get paid, said the warden.

Traffic wardens have to stand in the middle of traffic in searing heat and dust and are paid Rs.300 per day.

The contract system also makes it difficult for good work and long service to be rewarded. “I have worked as a traffic warden for three years. But there are those who have worked for many more years and are in the same position in the force as I am,” said a traffic warden.

The constant exposure to toxic vehicle fumes and polluted air also impacts their health adversely.

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