LAW &ORDER Tough times are ahead for those responsible for maintaining smooth flow of traffic in the city, writes Anand Haridas

As the city gets ready to welcome an influx of visitors during the Onam shopping spree, officials concerned with traffic maintenance are expecting another spell of hard times. Once again, lack of infrastructure may come in the way of ensuring smooth flow of traffic during the festival season.

Though the Road Traffic Authority (RTA) has released as much as Rs. 5 lakhs to the Public Works Department for making road markings, the work is yet to begin. The delay is being attributed to the monsoon.

Once the work is over, the main roads in the city will sport a new look. "At least, this can be a good beginning," said District Collector A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, who is Chairman of the RTA.

The authority had to wait for almost a year to get the Road Safety Fund released, and the money will just be sufficient for road markings.

Most of the medians in the city need urgent maintenance or repair.

"There should be a permanent solution to this issue. We have mooted the concept of a corpus for the RTA. If the State Government can make a contribution, the rest can be gathered from corporates as their social goodwill fund," Mr. Hanish said.

At present, the district administration and the city police are relying on sponsors to maintain and operate traffic managements systems, such as signals. And when they are knocked down, the repairs often get delayed because of this arrangement.

Authorities said the repair of a traffic signal at Palarivattom junction on the National Highway Bypass could be made quick enough after a major accident because it was being maintained by the RTA.

"After the road markings, priority will be given to work on medians, redesigning of junctions and their development," Mr. Hanish said. The district administration has a plan to channel some of the additional funds coming in during the festival season to solve traffic-related issues.

The city police are planning to repeat the proven strategies to handle the increased traffic during the festival. The department's main concern remains roads damaged in the rain.

It has already written to the city corporation, the Public Works Department and the National Highways Authority of India, seeking repair of the damaged roads.

"For the time being, we have to restrict ourselves to controlling of traffic flow and parking along Durbar Hall Road and Mahatma Gandhi Road. Also, the increased police presence in the city, brought in as part of the special monsoon drive, may help us carry on during the festival," said S. Surendran, Assistant Commissioner of Police.