A day in the life of traffic marshals with focus on a major road in Nungambakkam

Updated - March 24, 2024 12:35 pm IST

Published - March 24, 2024 12:11 pm IST

At a T-junction on Valluvar Kottam High Road. 
Photo: Prince Frederick 

At a T-junction on Valluvar Kottam High Road. Photo: Prince Frederick  | Photo Credit: PRINCE FREDERICK

At the newly drawn-up traffic monitoring points on the now-unidirectional Valluvar Kottam High Road, traffic marshals play a supportive role to police personnel. Nothing singular about that picture. Wherever Metro Rail work has left its hoof marks, traffic marshals are a predictable presence, serving as a second line of traffic regulation, stepping into the shoes of traffic police personnel.

Traffic marshals may do their job, but cannot command the imposing presence of a traffic police personnel. The white-and-khaki work flannels of a traffic police personnel instill fear and unquestioned compliance in a motorist.

In contrast, a motorist might feel the urge to pause and question a traffic marshal about a point of traffic enforcement. Some motorists do give in to that urge.

On the one-way Valluvar Kottam High Road, these scenes play out often. The usual argument: “My home is nearby; let me take a U-turn.”

Sometimes, it is a disabled right turn.

The traffic re-arrangement in the Kodambakkam-Nungambakkam region is essentially about this: A couple of major one-ways that in turn have spawned other changes in interior roads

A No U-turn board on Valluvar Kottam High Road, made one-way on account of Metro Rail work.

A No U-turn board on Valluvar Kottam High Road, made one-way on account of Metro Rail work. | Photo Credit: PRINCE FREDERICK

Entry into East Mada Street from Valluvar Kottam High Road has been entirely disabled. As a result, North Mada Street sweats harder. A left turn to enter and exit North Mada Street is allowed. There is no right turn. A traffic marshal notes that they would frequently encounter a motorist who request (sometimes demand) that an exception be made to the no-right-turn rule where they are comcerned, as their home or shop is located nearby on Valluvar Kottam High Road.

A similar argument would be put forth while seeking to taken an unauthorised U-turn on the one-way Valluvar Kottam High Road.

And the typical day at office for a traffic marshal at Valluvar Kottam High Road is bedeviled by arguments with motorists who would try to skirt around the new traffic arrangement in small yet significant ways.

Valluvar Kottam High Road

Valluvar Kottam High Road | Photo Credit: PRINCE FREDERICK

Probably because of the character of Valluvar Kottam High Road with its densely-packed mix of shops and houses in interior roads branching off it, motorists raring for an argument arrive on the scene with disturbing frequency.

Probably just to pre-empt this behaviour, the road has been made to sports a “no U-turn signage” at a number of places, one of them in front of the F3 Nungambakkam police station. But motorists (usually, motorcyclists) continue to get into arguments with traffic marshals.

A traffic police official with the F3 Nungambakkam police station acknowledges the problem. Some motorists do talk down to traffic marshals, and even try to bully them into submission. But the traffic marshals stand their ground. These motorists would not do the same with a traffic police personnel, the official says.

He notes that a request was only expectedly made to have some traffic police personnel drawn from elsewhere to assist them in managing the new traffic movement. But that was a request doomed to rejection from the beginning.

He continues: there is staff crunch across stations and the work related to the upcoming elections has further stretched the resources.

So, one would see more of the traffic marshals at those new traffic points on Valluvar Kottam High Road and Uthamar Gandhi Salai, and unfortunately also more of the arguments they would be swept into by peevish and unreasonable motorists.

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