Mumbai: Orlem locals catch vehicles on the wrong side of the law
Fed up of mounting accidents and fatalities, Orlem residents join hands with local police to stop those driving on the wrong side dead in their tracks
Reckless bikers have finally paid the price for getting on the wrong side of Orlem's residents. After witnessing a spate of accidents because of bikers riding on the wrong side of the road, locals joined hands with the traffic police in a special drive on Monday to catch the offenders in the act.
For several months, residents of Orlem had observed a spate of accidents around Orlem church, a stretch notorious for motorists driving on the wrong side of the road. "To avoid a longer route, motorists are fearlessly entering the main road from the wrong side. In January, tea seller lost his life after by being hit by a biker from the wrong direction. Two weeks ago, a domestic help fractured her ribs and leg in the same way," said resident Johannes Remedios, who started the Safer Roads @Orlem campaign to tackle this issue.
Bikers ride on the wrong side to avoid taking a longer route via one-way lanes
Remedios explained that motorists often went the wrong way to avoid taking a longer route via other one-way lanes in the neighbourhood. "The main road connecting Malad station to Mith Chowky is very busy road in peak hours. Vehicles coming from smaller lanes attached to it — such as Sunder Lane and D'Monte Lane — ought to go along with the traffic heading from the station towards Mith Chowky, and then take a right turn after crossing Orlem Church. But to avoid the longer route, motorists are fearlessly entering the main road from the wrong side.
"They drive towards Boudi Lane in this manner, and then take a U-turn from the wrong side to enter Shankar Lane. It's not just bikers but even car and autorickshaw drivers who are doing this, which causes major chaos during peak hours," he said.
One accident too many
The locals also started an online petition at change.org that got about 960 signatures in support. Remedios told mid-day, "Residents find it extremely difficult to access the footpaths or cross the road. There have been many accidents, quite a few of which were fatal." The most recent accident due to this menace took place two weeks ago, opposite Savio D'Souza's building.
"A young boy on a bike came in from the wrong side and banged into a domestic help, breaking her ribs and leg," recalled D'Souza. Following this incident, residents complained to local MLA Aslam Shaikh, who then instructed the police to intervene. On Monday, the local police and traffic cops launched joint operations to catch unruly motorists.
After locals insisted, the police caught and fined several bikers for riding on the wrong side of the road. Pics/Courtesy Safer Roads @Orlem
Orlem residents, including senior citizens, turned up in good numbers to put an end to the menace. At least five bikers were caught during the two-hour drive with the residents, after which the traffic cops continued with a bandobast during the evening peak hours. Ronnie D'souza, another resident, said, "We hope this action continues in the future, too, so that we can keep traffic under control and prevent fatalities." Orlem-ites have also suggested that CCTV cameras be installed there to monitor the situation.
The most recent victim of this menace was a domestic help, whose ribs and arm got fractured after a biker crashed into her a fortnight ago
Fine for driving on the wrong side of the road
George Fernandez, senior PI of Malad police station, said, "Residents approached us with complaints about motorists flouting norms, which led to accidents. Thus, apart from our regular vigil, we have also asked more beat marshals to be attentive in this area." Jitendra Bhavsar, traffic police inspector, said, "We charged around four to five people yesterday during the drive. I urge citizens not to risk their lives and that of others by driving on the wrong side, just to save a few minutes."
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