BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Goa has been witnessing a high rate of road accidents, some fatal, on a daily basis for the last few months, and none is willing to shoulder the burden of responsibility.
“Politicians are the main obstacles towards the enforcement of the law, and unless there is a change in attitude, deaths on roads due to accidents will continue. One has to know how to draw the line, and in this case, it is simple – follow the rules or face the law,” is the steadfast perception of retired IPS officer Bosco George.
“Whenever the police try to implement the law, there is resistance from politicians. The case of wearing helmets is one example. They want villages to be exempted from helmet rules, and this is not how it works,” exclaimed Bosco, whose honesty during his service was legendary.
“We have to streamline the system of issuing driving licenses, where, once again, politicians interfere, expecting licensing authorities to favour their people. Licensing authorities are asked to look the other way when granting licenses. This cannot happen,” asserts Bosco.
“Licenses are issued to people who do not know basic road rules, and this is why we see the mayhem on roads. Then law enforcers are expected to act. We need to start thinking seriously of the way we want to go,” muses Bosco.
Accidents are so plenty in Goa that excuses are becoming snarled up in traffic and families losing their dear ones. No excuse is acceptable when one deliberates on the exponential increase in accidents and the number of bereaved families.
Efforts to contact the director of transport Rajan Satardekar proved futile at the time of going to press. Sources in the Traffic Department of Goa Police acknowledge the increase in the number of cases under Section 192 of the MV Act.
“Since the RTO has stopped issuing licenses for rent a bike or cars, people have started hiring out their personal vehicles, and whenever they are caught, we are called by politicians asking for leniency,” added the officer.
“No, no, no. We just have some beers, eat something and go back. We have not come to get drunk,” she poked in jokingly when asked for her views on drinking and driving.
“The ratio of murders and death through accidents is increasing with accidental deaths touching new records. As much as the politicians and police, parents have an equally big role to play. Education begins at home,” emphasises Bosco.
Information from the Directorate of Transport indicates an increase in the number of cases booked under Section 192 of the MV Act, which relates to unlicensed vehicles being rented to tourists.
“The problem is that people from the north coastal belt are brazenly hiring out their personal vehicles to tourists, and they are being protected by their politicians. Then we are told to educate tourists instead of fining them,” lamented a policeman from the traffic police on the condition of anonymity.
Politicians have been part of Goa’s satrap from the beginning, but accidents were not as common. Policemen, active and retired, believe that the emphasis on infrastructure with no complementary attention to law enforcement is another cause of the malady.
“We have top-class infrastructure but, for example, do we have speed guns to check overspeeding? We don’t have the personnel to handle the huge increase of tourists coming into the state with their own vehicles,” opines Bosco.
“It is the affluent tourist coming to Goa that is seen openly violating the law as though they don’t give a damn about anything. The not-so-affluent quietly pay the fine and move on. This ‘I-can-do-anything’ attitude needs to be curbed,” stated a traffic police officer posted in North Goa.
“I have been told by the person from whom I have rented this bike that there is no problem if three of us travel together on one bike within the village. Anyway, I don’t drive fast as I am more used to driving a car,” meekly stated Shreya from Delhi, as she and her companions were dismounting from a motorcycle.
Politicians will want to pass the responsibility of fatalities on roads onto law enforcers; law enforcers will have their own set of excuses; and aggrieved parties will blame others instead of evaluating their behaviour. As more are added to the blame game, fatalities on the road will continue to increase.