Dressed in reflector jackets and carrying walkie-talkies,they help police ease traffic snarls. Before hitting the roads,they get together for a few hours at a coffee shop to brainstorm. Meet Gurgaons radio safety officers (RSO). They help in traffic movement,suggest ways to ease congestion and help out on road widening projects.
The RSOs have been credited with easing traffic at IFFCO Chowk,Jharsa Chowk,Shyam Chowk,one-way on Udyog Vihar,Cyber City,Bristol Chowk,Galleria Market and Golf Course Road. They have also made recommendations to HSIIDC and HUDA on road projects.
The Gurgaon traffic police,two years ago,posted on Facebook that they were looking to involve citizens in community policing. Thats when most of us applied. I joined because after coming to Gurgaon from Canada,I was horrified by the messy traffic here, said Sandeep Sharma,a senior consultant with an MNC,said.
So what is a day in the life of a RSO like? It begins as early as 7 am. All the RSOs assemble at an area with congestion,mostly chowks or roundabouts. They record traffic flow in these regions through their high-resolution cameras and employ different techniques manually handling traffic or manning the traffic lights. They also work with zonal officers in the night on drink driving campaigns. Neeraj Diwan,an exporter running a business in Rewari,said,I record the traffic movement and analyse it at home on my LED screen to come up with solutions. We then have brainstorm sessions. After a hard day at office,they are back on the streets with other RSOs.
Vedant Kaushal,an Assistant Manager with Tata Docomo,joked that initially the traffic police officers thought that they would usurp their jobs. Some others asked about their vested interests. Terming all the notions baseless,Kaushal said that all RSOs earned handsomely and the only purpose that brought them together was the passion to work for the community. Most of the gadgets (cameras,tripods,walkie-talkies,flashlights,etc) the RSOs use were bought from their own salaries.
Each one of us has been cuaght at some point or the other in two-hour long snarls. So,we know, said Dharmender Yadav,Progamme Manager with Advent Matrix India Pvt Ltd.
Rajeev Nandwani,Director of Oriflame recalls was the time when they helped two women in distress,who were returning late at night and being stalked by some men. We got our ambulance and called their parents and once the women felt they could trust us,we intervened so that they could go home safe, he said.
On the internal roads such as the Galleria Market and the Shri Ram School,a woman RSO is making all the difference. Odette Katrak,a freelance HR consultant and an RSO stationed at Galleria market,said,In our first week in Gurgaon after the order of Glasgows roads,we were horrified with the state of indiscipline. It made me realise that there was a dire need for people to bring in ideas and solutions to get order,discipline and courtesy back to our roads.
The Golf Course Road,Galleria Market and Shri Ram School have become congestion-free zones with the persistent efforts of Odette and her group of volunteers for over a year.
The selfless work hasnt been easy for these RSOs. They have had to cut down on family time. The family found my venturing at night very risky. I have had some fights and it took them two years to understand what I was doing, Kaushal said.
In support of the RSOs are some employers. Rakshit Kapoor,country head of NTT-Tata Docomo,said,One of the RSOs in our office is taking up an incredible social responsibility. These people bring a lot of skills and expertise to the traffic police and that makes it worthwhile.
The officers,however,maintain that the initiative could not have been possible without the active involvement of Joint CP (Traffic) Bharti Arora,who has played a pivotal role in encouraging the RSOs at every step. Arora said,They are the most dedicated,committed and selfless group of volunteers that I have come across. The RSOs are looking to involve more youngsters to carry forward the dream of making Gurgaon a congestion-free city.