Traffic in Colombo and the traffic cops

Traffic congestion is a nightmare in Colombo and suburbs during peak hours. It seems to have increased over the past few weeks due to some reason. Traffic along Galle Road leading out of Colombo can be seen even close to 9pm on weekdays. One reason could be the reduction on fuel prices which has led people to put more vehicles on the roads, which they left at home earlier.

Population is increasing, number of vehicles are increasing – manned by those who know a fraction of the law and have no discipline. Lane discipline for example has gone to the dogs. Tuk-tuks and mo-bikes invading the pavements, buses trying to bulldoze through on the wrong side and even the ‘seemingly’ educated in luxury cars who suddenly thought they bought over the roads.

Discipline and respect for one another can definitely help reduce this issue to a huge extent. Sad part is when the ‘seemingly’ educated do reckless moves in line with the bus drivers and tuk-tuk drivers. How can one further ‘educate’ them? When I see such instances I often wonder, is this ever going to change? If not, we better dig secret tunnels to get to work and back to avoid such mental depression.

Traffic cops

Making things worse are the traffic cops – most have little to no knowledge on the same rules and ethics apart from offenses such as running a red light and crossing the white line. One cannot simply expect these cops to book an errant driver. The cops should be first educated on these aspects – I bet many of them don’t possess licenses at all in the first place.

Another thing that I wonder is the number of cops on the road. Whenever there’s something special being implemented – like the carriageway laws (which was not something new mind you) – we see bunches of cops at many spots in close proximity. Even the top brass are on the road. But on a normal day during peak hours we see a sole officer manning a junction. Where have all the cops gone?

Traffic cops and the congestion

Image belongs to the owner

Road design

Who designs these roads? The galle road stretch in in Colombo is now ‘beautified’ with no much importance given to traffic flow. Specially in Wellawatte this is an issue as only two lanes are available on either side. Earlier this stretch had the potential to be a 3 lane road. Allocating a large area for the pavement for pedestrians and for parking on either side can be a good thing, but shouldn’t the traffic been the first priority? There is a public car park built in wellawatte along with the manning market. Not many use that but park their vehicles right outside on the road. What’s the use? Even the designated spots, one would occasionally see a vehicle parked with a part of it sticking out on the road. Some park at bus halts preventing buses to stop in their designated spot. Most don’t do that anyway – they stop right on their tracks.

The Dehiwala flyover – which doesn’t provide any value – is a total waste. Where have you seen a flyover built across a not-so-main road? Traffic has to be eradicated from source – at the bottlenecks – not somewhere in the middle where you see a build up.

Public transport

Instead of reducing taxes on fuel and vehicle imports, the extra income should be used to improve the quality and effectiveness of public transport. Number of vehicles on the road will reduce if proper public transportation is provided as people will change their mode of transport. Currently we have very inefficient system comprising of buses of which most are private – who only care about the profits they make – and the railway which people exploit by traveling without tickets. Trains and even buses are already overcrowded. A major overhaul of these are much in need with well thought out time tables.

Below is a news item which appeared more than 3 years ago. Well, nothing has changed.

Soon you’ll be speeding at 15 kmph on Colombo roads

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