On Thiru-Vi-Ka Road, they take on the job of automated signals during the rush hour for better traffic management, reports Liffy Thomas
Most commuters crossing the Thiru-Vi-Ka Road (formerly Royapettah High Road) and Peters Road junction during the evening rush hour are given to the notion that the traffic signals there don’t work. They don’t know that the police turn off the signals for better traffic management.
The traffic police choose to regulate the traffic manually at this junction during the peak hours in the evening, roughly from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
With the Government Royapettah Hospital and the Government Mortuary located in the area, the junction witnesses heavy traffic flow through the day. Sometimes attendants from the hospital hold up traffic, carrying a body on stretcher to the mortuary, which lies across the road. Four educational institutions and a slew of commercial offices in the vicinity add to the congestion at the junction.
In the evening, the signals are switched off for two to two-and-a-half hours to prevent traffic piling up on Thiru-Vi-Ka Road: an arrangement, traffic police and shopkeepers on this stretch say, has worked like a charm.
“From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. we switch off the signals and three traffic policemen regulate the vehicles,” says C. Pichandi, traffic sub-inspector manning the signal. “This way, vehicles are regulated depending on the flow and there is less possibility of an ambulance getting stuck in the traffic.”
But, this works only if there are enough traffic police at hand to offer help. “Generally, when there is no VIP duty, I have two other traffic inspectors to assist me. Also, Satish, a volunteer from Citizen for Safe Roads, helps regulate traffic from 5.45 p.m. Doing it alone can be a challenge,” says Pichandi.
According to the traffic police, much of the congestion can be attributed to the ongoing Metro Rail work on Anna Salai. An increasing number of MTC buses now take Thiru-Vi-Ka Road because of the traffic diversion. Both in the morning and evening, Thiru-V-Ka Road sees continuous flow of vehicles.
Regular commuters say chaos reigns when the singals are turned off and there are no traffic inspectors to take their place.