As police escort cricketers, traffic is put to the test.

NAGPUR: Traffic offenders all over city are having a free run since last couple of days as scores of traffic cops supposed to regulate the city traffic are engaged in piloting the India and South Africa cricket players who have reached the Orange city. It will get worse on Saturday, when the big match takes place at Jamtha, as hundreds of traffic cops are going to be deployed for escort and security duties.Sources said at present out of about 550 sanctioned posts of traffic cops, some 100 posts are lying vacant. With vehicular population increasing, the job of ensuring smooth movement of traffic has become a Herculean one. Due to lack of manpower, many important junctions were left to automatic signals that most of the time are faulty and also ignored by motorists. Now, traffic cops have been assigned the job of piloting cricket teams for their practice sessions at VCA stadium in Jamtha.Sources wondered how the traffic police, who are facing severe manpower crunch, could be deployed for such jobs by the police chief. At present, two senior police inspectors attached to traffic department including Ashfaq Pathan and Avinash More have been assigned to pilot both the teams between their hotel and stadium. At least 50 cops are deployed on the road between Chhatrapati square and octroi naka in Khapri. TOI on Friday visited many busy junctions and found traffic cops not deployed because of manpower crunch. Taking advantage of this, many motorists were seen jumping red signals posing a threat to their own and others’ life. At Panchsheel square, which is a chaotic place otherwise too, there was free for all despite the newly-installed LED signals as no traffic cop was present.Same was the situation at Rani Jhansi square with road users drawing attention of authorities towards the risks. “It becomes difficult for pedestrians to cross the junction. Children and the elderly are rarely considered by drivers. The misuse of traffic police has started to show in the form of a worsening of the traffic situation, rued Abdul Mohid, a resident of Mominpura. Sources expressed concern that staff crunch had now become a regular feature for the department. “One has to be very careful while crossing, since speeding vehicles hardly care for traffic coming out of the small lanes,” motorists said. Numerous crimes might be solved or even avoided if the department had enough personnel, he continued. Attempts to reach police commissioner Ankush Dhanvijay repeatedly failed.

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