On the wrong side

How does it feel to be told, "Kerala is blessed with Nature's bounty, but you Keralites are so self-centred that one can identify this in the manner you use (misuse!) public spaces."

That was Dilip Mahtre, a computer professional who is "compelled" to spend a considerable amount of time in Thiruvananthapuram.

What is it that irks him? It's our total lack of concern while using the parking spaces on the roads.

He adds, "When you go for your driving licences, are you only expected to show your skill with the vehicle or are you also asked to park your vehicle in selected spots to test your ability to use the space in the manner desired by the authorities?" One cannot blame Dilip for any of his remarks. All of us would have gone through this experience of not having found appropriate parking space, despite space being available, and returned home with all the work in the city left undone. It is high time we applied ourselves to the task of using parking spaces appropriately.

The Statue-Secretariat-Pulimood stretch, an area with high vehicle concentration, is a good example of the innumerable ways in which we abdicate our duties as responsible citizens.

Thanks to the total `ignorance' or violation of the mandatory space to be provided/kept free on either side of the `No Parking ` signboard, we encroach on this space and practically force passengers disembarking from buses here to hurtle out (remember that parking is not permitted because there is a bus stop), and get caught between the parked vehicle and the bus! Move ahead and one has the major turn to the left at the Pulimoodu junction, which permits one-way traffic only - from the main road down to the Government Press Road. This is one stretch that gives us a host of live situations that display our total callousness.

Ask anyone who needs to use that stretch regularly. They know it permits only `One-way' traffic. Sekharan, a small time contractor who frequents the paint shop here, comments, "One-way implies `my way'." The sarcasm in the tone tells it all.

The other aspect that hurts the eye is the total lack of uniformity in the manner of parking -- a Maruti 800 will be parked parallel to the kerb. The vehicle behind, maybe a Tata Sierra, will be parked in the herringbone manner, at an angle to the kerb. If the driver finds the length of space inadequate for his vehicle, he puts the oversized vehicle at an angle, much to the distress of other vehicles coming down this road. Adding to the confusion will be a two-wheeler driver who parks behind the Sierra and restricts free-flow of traffic on an already cramped road. What can a lone policeman do to the citizen who turns a blind eye to the rules and thinks he owns all these spaces? Of course, Government vehicles (with boards screaming the designation of the user), and cars with the beacon atop roof, excel in this business of violating all desired rules.

Vehicular traffic is multiplying at a dizzying pace on our roads. It is time commercial areas and complexes had their own parking bays.

The Corporation may levy a parking fee on all vehicles using the roads for parking -- these measures may bring in some order to the chaos that prevails on this stretch of road during rush hours.


Photo: S. Gopakumar