By India Commentary
Brabourne Road in Kolkata, variously also known as Maharaj Trailokyanath Sarani and New Howrah Bridge Approach Road, is a vital artery that connects the city’s inbound traffic from the famous Howrah Station, especially since the two other arterial roads – Mahatma Gandhi Road and Strand Road – are one way routes that take traffic to the station. But the traffic mismanagement on Brabourne Road is to be seen to be believed, despite it being a six lane thoroughfare.
The footpath and at least one lane of the carriageway have been permanently occupied by hawkers. Parking of cars is haphazard. Pedestrians dangerously weave in and out of the traffic. Traffic moves at a snail’s pace between the flyover till the Tea Board office at India Exchange Place crossing. Handcarts, although prohibited on this road, have a free run. Most of them either have a monthly system with the police or bribe them one-off to ‘use’ the road to deliver goods to the wholesale markets dotting the area from the transport hub on nearby Tarachand Dutta Street and Colootola Street. This makes life hell for those who have their offices in this area or have to visit it for any reason.
The accompanying picture shows that the police have recently put up big boards on Brabourne Road near the Manohardas Chowk crossing saying that handcarts are not allowed to use the road. But as can be seen in the picture, the offending vehicles have a free run, compounding traffic problems. Chaos rules, allowing policemen to fill their pockets while citizens have a harrowing time negotiating the stretch, whether driving or walking on foot. The situation is going to worsen as the road is now going to be closed to traffic to facilitate Metro tunnel work. During this time, the hawkers are expected to take over the entire stretch. The police have to be vigilant to prevent this. But will they act? In fact, their mouths must be watering at the prospect of earning further from new hawkers.