Tuesday, June 22, 2004

New monster on the road

As if all the mess we have on our roads wasn't enough, here is a new one that has come plague us in recent times.

Zipping BPO vehicles turn monsters


Bangalore: There is a new monster of a traffic problem on the road which revs up and down the road round the clock across the city. This monster takes the shape of four-wheeler carriers that ferry call centre and software employees to their offices of the city.
Some of these vehicles not only whiz around at breakneck speed but also blare loud music and honk indiscriminately late night and early morning, waking up the entire neighbourhood. The sick and the elderly have, in particular, complained about this to the authorities.
Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who return home late after duty hours are the worst affected, who manoeuvre these zipping call centre vehicles with great difficulty.
The police washed their hands of the issue, saying they do not have enough manpower to handle night traffic. “Give us more manpower, we will deploy traffic policemen in the night too,’’ Traffic DCP (East) M.A. Saleem said.
Expressing sympathy for the victims, Saleem recalled that an elderly resident in Banaswadi complained about a particular four-wheeler pickup that would honk incessantly in the early hours of the day to wake up an employee it was to ferry across. After she passed on the vehicle’s registration number, the police tracked down the driver and warned him.
The police will initiate action if people inform them about such ‘rogue’ vehicles, Saleem added. The problem stalking the city roads could be gauged by the fact that the city is home to around 1.5 lakh BPO employees and 3.5 lakh software workers, who work 24x7 round in shifts. But tour operators defend rash driving as they have a tough deadline to meet. Naseer Ahmed of Koramangala, who has contracted a fleet of vehicles to BPOs, explained: “We work on strict time schedules. If the driver delays a bit in picking up employees, then the companies hire a city taxi and dump the bill on us. This is the reason we drive fast — and only to keep time schedules.’’
At least two accidents involving call centre vehicles are reported every week from the Outer Ring Road, Hosur Road, Airport Road or Bannerghatta Road, a police officer said. “Some drivers of these vehicles (with yellow board) don’t have a valid licence to drive passenger vehicles. The (non-transport) licence allows them to drive only light-motor vehicles,’’ RTO (Central) Syed Shafi Ahmed said.
Further, he said, a driver with transport licence has to renew it every three years by undergoing a test, whereas those with nontransport licence renew it once in 20 years. “Going by the book, passenger vehicles driven by non-transport licence holders are not entitled to insurance cover. Hence, BPOs should insist that only transport licence holders drive such vehicles.’’


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