Weekly Musings: Time: The Greatest Healer
Four days ago on Sunday afternoon despite the heat, one had to go out and to New Road, of all places. The police were controlling the large number of people trying to cross the street at all zebra crossings in New Road. As far as the people were concerned, they crossed the street when the police told them do so and went their way.
One was certain that the people were not inconvenienced nor were the drivers who were made to stop at designated crossings. But cars and motor bikes still continue to take right turns even when they could have driven a few hundred metres to the Juddha statue or just beyond the New Road Gate where U-turns are allowed. But the traffic police who had to sweat profusely in the hot summer day must have had a tough time. Unfortunately such a scenario is not confined to New Road alone. There are many areas in the city that face similar problems.
Why the rules
We tend to forget that rules are made not to penalise the people whether pedestrians or vehicle drivers. The rules are put in place to make the life of the people easy and smooth and, in the case of traffic rules, to minimise accidents and fatalities. The prime objective of official rules and regulations is to ensure the welfare of the people. Rules are not made to make money either for the government or the private sector.
Soon after the imposition of the rule preventing pedestrians from crossing the street randomly, there were news reports that the police collected over 1.6 million rupees as fines from the pedestrians who crossed the road haphazardly. But one is yet to learn just what amount in fines the police have collected from drivers who bulldoze their way at crowded Zebra crossings. (Everyone presumes the drivers have more in their pockets than do the pedestrians.)
In the name of so called “transition” period, those in power have in the past allowed virtual chaos to prevail in the country. People, specially those close to the power, take law into their own hand and forget that it is the prime responsibility of any government to ensure the safety and welfare of the general public. In the absence of proper, impartial and effective implementation of laws and rules, some of the common people have no qualms in setting up shops in the street (street hawkers) and the law enforcement authorities turn a blind eye to such phenomenon which has not become common and for many such people the only means for survival.
This never-ending process not only crowded the footpaths, pavements and, sometimes, streets but also the worn-out overhead bridges around Tundhikhel. The lawlessness that one witnesses in the streets can be said to be a direct outcome of the euphoria among the law-enforcers (who must have feared the new political leaders) that allowed the people to use the roads, streets and open spaces in the way they liked and they profited.
Habits die hard but efforts have to be made to slowly change the mentality of the residents of big cities in the country. They have to be told – sometimes coerced – to observe the laws and rules which are made for their own benefit. A change in the mentality is necessary if the country is to be stable and divert its attention towards the all round development of the country.
It is said that time is the greatest healer and the people who have been used to over 10 years of lax governance by various political parties can get accustomed to rules and regulations that really aim to help the people lead a better and more civilised life. Thus, the need of the present time is to enact appropriate laws and rules so that the people become aware of their responsibility towards their fellow country men and women and not be guided by their own concepts of rights without duties.
The traffic police personnel who sweat and suffer under the hot afternoon sun do not have to do so if only the vehicle drivers and pedestrians become more aware of their own responsibilities and behave accordingly. In addition, traffic lights – both for drivers and for street crossing by pedestrians – will go a long way in reducing the number of traffic police personnel needed to man the streets.
The installation of traffic lights at important points may be costly but in the long term they will prove to be cost effective and allow the traffic police to undertake other activities that will prevent road accidents, including a regular police check for drunk driving as well as rash and reckless driving which usually occur in the early mornings when drivers feel that they own the roads and drive at break-neck speeds. It will take some time to forget the laxity of the past and to get used to a more civilised and safer road sense. It is time to forget the irregularities of the “transition” period and become accustomed to civilised practices.