The frequent shifting of Road Safety Commissioner, delay in posting permanent staff to the Kerala Road Safety Authority (KRSA), and giving more powers to the District Road Safety Councils and officials of the Motor Vehicles Department, Public Works Department, and police as Road Safety Officers is hampering road safety activities.
The proposal to give more teeth to the councils and designating the sub inspector, motor vehicle inspector, and assistant engineer of the PWD as Road Safety Officers was pending for over a year now, a top official of the authority said.
The move is aimed at effective intervention by the officers to ensure road discipline and curb accidents and to overcome the handicap that officers do not have any powers to act against erring motorists.
The KRSA, constituted in January 2008 to advise the government on road safety policies, enforce road safety standards and procedures, formulate schemes, projects and programmes relating to road safety, and coordinate with agencies and departments, has not been able to function on a full scale.
The only solace for the KRSA is that it has been given an accounts officer, a junior superintendent, and two clerks. Official sources said nod had been received for hiring three technical members on contract basis for formulation and scrutiny of projects and monitoring their implementation.
The Minister for Transport is the KRSA chairman, Minister for Public Works is the vice-chairman, and Transport Commissioner is ex-officio Road Safety Commissioner as per KRSA Act 2007.
Since 2008, the KRSA has got seven IPS officers and one IAS officer as Commissioners. During the last five years, only T.P. Senkumar occupied the post for 16 months. Since January 2012, Rishi Raj Singh is the fifth Road Safety Commissioner.
“The frequent shifting of Commissioners is not good. The Act is an excellent legislation for enhancing road safety and ensuring discipline in the roads,’’ State Planning Board member E. Sreedharan told The Hindu.
“A fixed term should be given to the Commissioners to enforce the rules and chalk out road safety programmes. He should be effective and should have the will to act courageously as he is vested with powers even to arrest wrongdoers,’’ he added.
The KRSA functions from one of the floors at Trans Towers, headquarters of the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD), at Vazhuthacaud in the capital. Road safety experts have been voicing for regulatory, advisory, capacity-building, and research role for KRSA and to provide an institutional framework for a coordinated approach to check mounting accidents.