Location: MIDC Taloja, Navi Mumbai. The excerpts below are from an interview with a traffic constable at Taloja Junction. Taloja MIDC is one of the largest industrial complexes in India. This critical junction connects the Taloja MIDC to NH48, the main highway to Mumbai. Hundreds of cars and heavy duty trucks pass daily through this junction daily. Six Traffic constables have been deployed for traffic management at this junction. One of the officers agreed to grant us a short 5 minute interview when he was on a break.
E: How tough is it to keep traffic going smooth here?
Officer: Taloja has several manufacturing companies, especially chemical companies. The weight of these containers is close to 30 tons. It is essential that these trucks navigate very smoothly amidst the zooming cars. Also the new bridge construction over the junction has placed additional stress on the congested roads. Sometimes even the Traffic lights here at the junction do not function so we have to manually control traffic on all the four lanes.
E: What’s the most common type of traffic problem that happens here?
Officer: Overloaded vehicles become a major problem. They are the majority cause for most of the accidents and mishaps that happen here. One in every three trucks that pass from here is probably overloaded. We have an additional team that stands at approach roads to the junction to check such trucks before they reach the junction. Overloading of trucks reduces the driver's efficiency to brake and steer and it can be fatal to other people on the road.
E: How many hours in a day do you work?
Officer: Me and my team usually work 12 hour shifts. But sometimes we have stay back longer if an accident is reported or there is some incident reported in any of the factories. Taloja has a lot of chemical companies and sometimes fire is reported in the factory. We have to be present and clear the traffic to allow the emergency vehicles to pass through.
E: The heavy traffic must be very taxing on your health. What kind of health problems do you face?
Officer: We stand at this junction for more than eight hours daily as thousands of vehicles pass by. This is an industrial zone and the traffic is air is always bad. Trucks and buses here are the worst as they puff out black smoke. Dust on the side of the road is also bad as when vehicles pass on it the air becomes very dusty. Summer is the worst season as the heat is a killer. I carry water bottle with me to drink and wash my face. I see other officers suffering from coughing and wheezing. I am not suffering from anything and I am fit.
E: What about noise pollution & people honking on the road is it also an issue?
Officer: I don’t pay much attention to it. During traffic motorists honk because everybody is in a rush.
E: Do you use any protective equipment to protect yourself?
Officer: Earlier no. But now the head office has started giving us this mask to use. I carry my handkerchief along with me always.
E: What problems do you face to use this respirator rather than use a handkerchief?
Officer: It is very difficult to use this respirator continuously. How can I use my whistle to control the traffic using this? Also I have to shout instructions during peak hour traffic which is not possible wearing the respirator. I wear it sometimes when the traffic is easy and smooth.
E: Thank you for sharing your side of the story sir. Would you like to give out a message to the people through us?
Officer: Drive safely and drive slow. Most of the accidents I see on the road could have been avoided if people obeyed the traffic rules and not driven fast. Also respect the traffic police’s instructions as it is our duty to help you.
Venus Safety & Health salutes these brave officers who risk everything for their duty.