Jaipur-based non-profit organization Muskaan had initiated a project to create road safety awareness with special emphasis on BRTS and Metro routes. The objective of the project was to bring down the number of fatalities on the operative dedicated BRTS route. This article intends to present the fact that a lot can be achieved in the field of road safety when non-profit organizations work with government departments in earnest sincerity.
The city of Jaipur is a favoured tourist destination because of the historical sites and the colourful cultural heritage it has. Like so many of India’s historical cities, the Pink City too is facing a dichotomy of sorts. Developments of malls, newer industrial and shopping hubs, the old and new life styles vying with each other combined with a total lack of civic sense have become a challenge to organized traffic. Added to this is the fact that Jaipur is one of the fastest growing cities of world. There is a remarkable increase of vehicle population in the city and its yearly growth is about 1.5 lakh vehicles during last three years. All these developments have posed some serious challenges to the Jaipur Traffic Police and Jaipur Development Authority.
Road safety is one of the major challenges the city is facing. There are more than 1300 people dying every year on the roads of Jaipur. While the civil society organizations like Muskaan Foundation for Road Safety have been crying hoarse about having a concerted road safety plan in place, the administration has been exploring bigger options to solve the problem. To answer the multi-level requirements of the city and to meet the increasing demands of transportation, Jaipur Development Authority decided to introduce BRTS in Jaipur.
Out of the total 29km of planned North- South BRTS corridor, only seven kilometers are operative at Sikar Road, Jaipur and rest is under construction. The route has 22 bus stations and nine major intersections. It connects large residential and industrial areas that generate high traffic. The CNG and diesel buses with a floor height of 650mm and 400 mm with a capacity of 90 passengers (inclusive of sitting and standing passengers) began to ply on this route.
Since then with more than 200 accidents and 47 deaths, the 7km operative BRTS route has become a major concern for the government and residents of colonies around Sikar Road.
Muskaan’s efforts to find a solution to accidents on BRTS
Wanting to focus on the problem faced in the newly launched BRTS, Muskaan submitted a project to Jaipur Development Authority on road safety with specific reference to the spate of rise in accidents, often fatal accidents, on the route. The NGO’s specific commitment to the project was to reduce fatalities on the route by 10% within a year. The project was awarded to the NGO. As part of the project, Muskaan was to conduct Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities and coordinate with Enforcement and Engineering departments to bring down the number of fatalities in a year. The project aimed to utilize IEC activities as the foremost tool to promote road safety awareness amongst all the stakeholders – youth in educational institutions, resident welfare associations, vyaparmandals, corporate executives, teachers, drivers among others. Going forward with the project with cooperation from all concerned departments, Muskaan’s project showed extraordinary results.
Who is responsible for what?
1. Jaipur Development Authority (JDA): Development of infrastructure and supervision during the construction of the BRT corridors
2. Jaipur City Transport Services Limited (JCTSL): Procurement of bus operators, collection agency, ITS agency and also for regulating, controlling and monitoring the operations
3. STUP Consultant Limited: Supervision of engineering work
4. Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA): Policy level decisions related to land use and transport
5. Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC): that handles buses in the state and the city – now handles the BRT buses as well
6. PDCOR Ltd: Consultant for project management, infrastructure design and bus operations
Muskaan’s Project Director, Neha Khullar coordinated with six departments handling the different aspects of the project. In spite of the daunting task of reducing 10 % fatality, she was confident that with an experience of pushing difficult decisions in the Traffic Control Board’s meetings (being a member) Muskaan’s team was equipped with good work experience with most of the departments and its heads. The project was given a green signal in an all important meeting of Traffic Control Board.
The basic components of the project included
• Education and Awareness activities on Road Safety in educational institutions and factories at Sikar Road;
• Coordination with authorities for engineering fault corrections;
• Coordination with Traffic Police for strengthening enforcement;
• Liaison with hospitals and emergency service providers to build emergency response capacity in the area.
• Have IEC activities in schools, colleges and community hubs.
• Project beneficiaries were youth, teachers, parents, families and community at large. As is well known, the youth is one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to road accidents. With the thrill of speed in the head and a high flying riding machine in hand this age group leads in contributing to the high rates of accidents. Teachers were made an important beneficiary segment of the project as they play a vital role in making the youth responsible citizens by strengthening safe road habits in them. Parents were identified as important stakeholders asthey were not being good role models for their children.
• Vyapar Mandals and Industrial Associations form a burgeoning number of stakeholders in the project. Shopkeepers along the road side are usually the first responders in case of accidents and as such they can play a very significant role in providing first aid to the accident victims. Though these very shopkeepers act as good Samaritans when accidents happen, they are also responsible for encroachments on pavements and slip lanes.
• Sikar road, the site of BRTS has approximately 30 educational institutes in the area. That added a good number of youth on motor bikes on this road. School and college drivers too are responsible for speeding. Same can be said of the drivers of mini buses and the drivers of public transport. All these became the target group for Road Safety Orientation by Muskaan. They needed an orientation in responsible driving as their irresponsible driving could jeopardize larger number of passengers, mostly youth.