The small red flags which have sprung up on roads across the city are the result of an initiative by the traffic police. The signs are meant to point out road dividers for drivers, after the traffic department noted the absence of road signs at crucial junctions in the capital.
In March, senior officials of the traffic department had written a letter to the public works department (PWD), pointing out the absence of signboards directing commuters to keep right or keep left.
“It has been observed that there is a need for signboards, which ask the driver to ‘keep right’ or ‘keep left’, at various places in Delhi. These signs are a must at the beginning of flyovers or at places where there is a grade separator, to caution motorists and prevent accidents,” stated the letter.
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The issue was discussed at a meeting between the PWD and traffic department in July.
“We wrote to the PWD and told them that there had been a spate of incidents when cars rode over low-lying dividers or hit the nose points, while turning the vehicle around a corner – especially at night. Neon signs at the mouths of such bends would warn drivers and prevent accidents. However, the signages have not yet come up on the roads,” said Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander.
To avoid mishaps, traffic police came up with a quick-fix method — red flags, traffic drums and traffic cones. “Police commissioner B S Bassi was the one who came up with the idea. He said, ‘in the absence of a permanent solution, lets adopt a jugaad solution’. We made several red flags, which were hoisted on traffic cones with neon stickers. The flags wear out in a matter of days. They either break or fall off, so we keep on replacing them. Our operations team makes the flags using cane or thin bamboo sticks, and a red cloth. This has been an effective measure as drivers notice the red flags from a distance,” said a traffic policeman deployed in East Delhi.
Traffic police have, meanwhile, drawn up a list of 116 roads in need of ‘keep left’ signs and 64 roads in need of ‘keep right’ signs, which they duly submitted to the PWD.
A senior PWD official said, “The traffic police had identified about 100 cases in which they needed our intervention. The field staff was instructed about the interventions that we needed to make. In the past month or so, however, the PWD has undergone restructuring. As a result, some interventions could not be completed. However, the department is working towards redesigning of roads which the PWD minister has already spoken about,” said a senior official.