The Poor and Decrepit State of Transportation is Worrisome

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Modern life has gained much pace; it is fast, there is haste in it and there hardly is any time to rest. One who lags behind does so perpetually and there are hardly any chances of gaining enough speed to match others. There is no option to be slow and those who are slow get lost and defeated. There is a race between one and all and all and one. There is also a race with time. In these races all try to win, but winning them is not easy, only a few succeed in all of them. The majority at the least try to be relevant and they should be relevant.
This pace in life, this haste and these races demand a person to be on time. One who fails to accomplish that becomes a laggard and gets lost in the day-to-day affairs without gaining much. To achieve all this transportation plays a crucial role. A sound, fast and modern system of transportation could make a man to meet all his ends successfully and if there is any limitations on part of the transportation system it is not possible for a person to meet those ends.
Keeping these things in mind , modern transportation systems have been developed and built. There is speed in these systems and there is safety. There is luxury in them and a surety that the distance will be covered in the stipulated time. These transportation facilities are affordable to all that is the main thing; if one cannot afford one type of transportation but the other can easily be afforded. That is the reason a person can live in one place and work far away from his residence and could reach to the work and back safely and in time. With the further development of the transportation, various facilities have been provided which take care of the weather patterns and provide comforts to travelers.
The transportation systems include many means such as air travel by airplanes, ships for travel through water and trains and buses etcetera for the same on the land. In our part of the world the main means of transportation are buses, minibuses and taxis (Sumos, Taveras and so on). These are run by both the public sector and private sector transport companies but the private section is the main provider of transport facilities. However, the performance of the transport companies is below par and unsatisfactory.
That is the reason we are lagging behind on many fronts. The speed of life in this part of the world is far less than what is in the other parts of the world. In this age of globalization , for a region and people to stay connected and stay relevant is to have the minimum threshold of speed and secure speed in terms of transportation, and if the that speed is not achieved the region and the people get disconnected from the pace and progress that is witnessed in the rest of the world and by the people of those regions.
The pace of the transportation, in Kashmir, though has increased with time but that is not in accordance with the pace that has been acquired in the other parts of the world. The introduction of newer means of transportation has not increased the pace as should have been the case. About security, that has also not improved. Each day there are reports of accidents in the state and the extent of the damage in some accidents is such that it belies the claims that any process in this sector has been made at all.
According to a reply to a question in the Legislative Council, the Ex-Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti gave the statistics like this, 2500 deaths and 22021 injuries due to road accidents in the last three years. The number of accidents in the same period, according to her, was 15996. This shows the pathetic state of safety on the roads in Jammu & Kashmir which needs urgent improvement.
The road infrastructural development in the state has not picked up with the introduction of more and more vehicles on the roads. In some, areas the roads are decades, if not centuries, old!
The result is that the roads fail to accommodate all the vehicles and therefore there are frequent and long duration traffic jams and some of the jams remain for hours together especially during the peak hours of the day. When the roads remain jammed during these hours the prospects and possibility of reaching the work in time becomes very difficult and most of the times impossible.
If the lack of proper road space was not enough of the handicap, illegal occupation of the available road space by shopkeeper and vendors in the towns and cities has further constricted this space, thereby creating further hurdles in the free movement of traffic. The shopkeepers and vendors consider the roads as their own private property and listen to none regarding their illegal activities and occupation of roads. Political patronage and the support of some bureaucrats and law enforcement officials have emboldened them to such an extent that they don’t care if the roads remain completely jammed for days together.
There is no care for the commuters and there is no care for the pedestrians inasmuch as most of the footpaths have been merged with shops and other business establishments. The pedestrians and vehicles compete for the space on the constricted roads and so the pace of the transport has gone down even further. The poor patients that are ferried from one hospital to the other face tremendous problems and some even succumb due to the traffic jams. This is the greatest loss that could have been avoided if the shopkeepers and vendors would have acted responsibly but unfortunately that is not known in this part of the world.
Worst is the attitude of the transporters, drivers and all the related people involved in the transportation sector of the state. They resort to all the unethical means to earn more and serve less. Transporting people is not only a means to earn ones livelihood but it is also a worship which makes people to reach to their destinies. So, if transporters and drivers are sincere in dropping commuter on their destinies in time, it really is worship, besides earning their livelihood.
But, they mostly consider their profits and give no thought to the needs and urgencies of the others. They try to earn more by slowing down the pace of their vehicles, overloading and running less number of vehicles on different routes. The shortage of vehicles especially during the evening hours of the day can be witnessed on most of the roads of Kashmir. During these times such rush and race of commuters is witnessed that a person who gets a vehicle considers him fortunate, and it is never easy to get one. Many commuters are forced to over pay which purely is an unethical practice. Commuters even fight for vehicles and seats in the vehicles.
The lack of sufficient regulatory mechanisms or their faulty implementation has emboldened the private transporters to such an extent that they don’t feel it necessary to be answerable and accountable. That is why , they ferry their vehicles only as long as they want and the way they want. They never feel duty bound to ensure the safe return of all the commuters at the end of each day.
Overall, the conditions of transportation in the Kashmir region are unsafe, inadequate and deliberately made faulty. In this region , the system works on the whims and wishes of drivers and private transport companies. These drivers and the companies are no where accountable and nobody wants them to be answerable. They work as they like. There is no set standard and there is no procedure. The transporters resort to all unethical and illegal practices.
This situation needs to change if we want to march forward on the path to success. The responsibility lies on all of us but the concerned people should be more responsible towards their duties. The current state of transportation harms us all; transporters including but they realize not. The need of the hour is that all the agencies, transporters and general public work to make transportation safe, secure and fast. Failure at this juncture could dent further the prospects of a happy and prosperous state.

The author can be reached at: fayaz.greatstep@gmail.com