Zebra crossings make no difference to a number of drivers

Are zebra crossings a particularly safe point to cross our roads? Despite what the rule books say, zebra crossings make no difference to a number of drivers, who make no attempt to slow down their vehicles at these points when they see pedestrians crossing the road.

“There is a crossing in front of our school. But motorists either stop at the middle of the crossing or not at all. Thankfully, we usually have a police officer stationed outside the school in the evening to ensure the safety of our students,” said the principal of a city school.

Besides, zebra crossings are missing in front of most schools here. “Zebra crossings have been painted at all the important junctions and key locations in the city. But they may have worn off or disappeared when the roads were re-tarred,” an official of the Public Works Department offered by way of explanation.

The district administration and city police have taken extensive steps to ensure the safety of children travelling in school buses and private school transport vehicles. Training classes were held for drivers of vehicles carrying schoolchildren and they were given special instructions to ensure that children crossed the road safely before the vehicle took off.

Now, motorists need to respect the right of pedestrians to be provided with an opportunity to safely cross roads at zebra crossings.

Sermons on power

Make a call to any office of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to complain about a power outage and one will be bombarded with sermons of the need to conserve energy, reduce consumption, use energy efficient appliances and what not.

Then there is the constant ruing over how various factors ranging from power shortage and scanty rain to drying reservoirs conspired to make another power tariff hike inevitable.

But the question is why KSEB cannot do some simple things right such as switching off the streetlights on time to save what little energy it can.

A stroll along some city stretches ‘lit up” by streetlights in perfectly bright conditions paints the picture of an agency having the luxury of surplus power instead of one stricken with power shortage.

Like their reasoning behind demand for frequent tariff hike, KSEB has reasons to defend the ‘curious’ case of streetlights as well.

Two linemen from each section office are entrusted with operating units controlling streetlights. Since it takes a while for them to cover their turf, it’s perfectly possible for delays in switching on as well as switching off streetlights is the KSEB way of looking at it.

Agreed, but should the public pay for the loss of power resulting from such a ‘perfect’ situation?

The missing trees

Roads in the city have ‘lived up’ to their reputation with small pools of muddy waters dotting them with the onset of monsoon.

However, missing this time has been the plantain trees that usually ‘decorated’ those pools. Placing plantain trees on potholed holes had become as acceptable as potholed roads during monsoons over the years.

However, this imaginative protest form seems to be on the ‘endangered’ list now. Young turks of youth outfits credited with inventing this unique protest seem to have either given it up in the face of increasing number of potholes they can hardly fill or ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude of authorities in spite of all those plantain trees they have painstakingly dragged on to road all these years.

Whatever be the reason, the missing plantain trees have left the motorists and lensmen a dejected lot. They served as a pointer helping motorists escape deep pits while lensmen rue lost opportunity over a stock picture that often spared them blushes on a rather lean monsoon day.

(By Nidhi Surendranath, M.P. Praveen and

G. Krishnakumar)