Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Smooth operators

Smooth operators
What with flyover work on in full swing in the HSR Layout-to-Marathahalli stretch, the resultant traffic jams have galvanised companies on the Outer Ring Road-Sarjapur Road to take matters into their own hands. Read on...
SAHANA CHARAN


Whenever there is a traffic hold-up that lasts for hours, most of us fly into a rage and blame each other and the traffic police for the mess. But here is an example of corporate responsibility at its best.
Tired of the regular traffic snarls experienced on the 7-km stretch between HSR Layout and Marathahalli and the neighbouring Sarjapur and Haralur roads because of the flyover construction that is in progress in the area, several tech and non-IT companies decided to get together and chalk out an action plan to smoothen road traffic. For starters, a clique of 22 companies on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) — including Nokia, Cisco, AOL, Intel, Accenture, Northern Trust, Aditya Birla group, RMZ Corp and so on — have deployed 16 security guards at 10 junctions on this stretch to man traffic. Total Mall on Sarjapur Road has stationed one security guard to regulate traffic in front of their building near Kaikondrahalli Lake.
Moreover, these companies are regularly coordinating with the traffic police officials and the nearby police stations to ensure trouble-free travel in this traffic heavy area.
“This idea was initiated when a few companies such as Cisco, Intel and AOL and resident groups such as Forward-150 (Federation of Residents’ Welfare Association of Ward 150-Bellandur) met the Additional Commissioner (Traffic and Security) to discuss the problem. He mooted the idea of corporates taking their own initiative to ease the problem. “He suggested that we employ security guards from private agencies as traffic wardens and promised to help in their training. Later we formed the Outer Ring Road Companies Association and employed 16 guards from Guardwell agency. All of them have been trained at the Traffic Training Institute,” said Viswanath Seetharam, Facility Manager at AOL and General Secretary of ORRCA.
From a small group, the association is now 22-member strong and has taken up a number of traffic, transport and safety initiatives. The budget for the traffic management programme alone is Rs.2.2 lakh and this is utilised to pay the guards’ salaries and also to organise events for awareness and road sense.
ALERTING THE ROAD USER
Apart from smoothening road blocks, regular updates are sent to all member companies and other corporates in ORR, Marathahalli and ITPL about the traffic situation in this area. “Our ORRCA supervisor calls up the Airport Road and HSR Layout police station every day to find out the road traffic situation. If there is a dignitary visiting or any event or protest happening that might cause bottlenecks, we send mails to around 200 companies on our mailing list to alert them about the situation and avoid that stretch at a particular time,” said Viswanath.
Moreover, when there is a major problem, companies co-ordinate to stagger the log out timings of their employees, so that there is less traffic. So if Intel employees leave at 5.15 p.m., Cisco people will go at 5.45 p.m., AOL at 6 p.m. and so on.
Employees are also encouraged to take public transport and educated on traffic rules. “The posting of traffic guards has reduced travel time for employees by at least 30 mins, which is a big thing. We at ORRCA want to act as facilitators so that every one including the common road user is not inconvenienced,” says Capt Poornaprajna GA, Theatre Manager -India, Global Safety, Security and Business Resiliency at Cisco and President of ORRCA.
FUTURE PLANS
The association is looking at extending this service by covering the whole of Marathahalli and stretching till K R Puram in the next few months. This depends on more companies piping in. “ORRCA and Forward-150 will be collaborating to extend this traffic management plan to areas in the Sarjapur Road belt and also rope in more corporates,” said Ramesh Krishnan of ORRCA.
MARATHON
ON FEB 6
To raise awareness among the public as well as employees of corporate organisations that dot the Outer Ring Road on traffic and transport related issues, the ORRCA is organising a 10-km marathon on February 6 on the ORR stretch starting from Ecospace Tech Park to Marathahalli. E-mails have been sent to around 200 companies on the ORR, Marathahalli and ITPL inviting employees to participate. Banners have been put up at junctions so that members of the public can take part in the marathon. Contributing their mite
In their own way, residents of Eastwood Layout have taken the first step in helping man traffic at the Haralur road-Sarjapur Road junction. With a number of big departmental stores and high-rise apartments in this area, it is naturally chaotic during peak hours with traffic coming from three sides. Following a meeting of the Forward-150 (Federation of Residents’ Welfare Association of Ward 150-Bellandur) a couple of months ago, in which traffic problems in the area were discussed, Eastwood Layout residents’ association led by their President Ranjan Dutta decided to make a beginning by putting a private security guard on this junction to regulate traffic flow during peak hours.“It’s a beginning we have made and it has helped in reducing travel time, even if by only 10 mins. We are hoping that other resident associations will follow suit to reduce hold ups on this stretch,” says Ranjan.

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