Mumbai: Traffic cop drives out errant rickshaws drivers outside Bandra station

Updated: Jan 07, 2019, 09:43 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

After years of being fleeced by auto drivers, Bandra residents delighted by Police Inspector Nitin Patil's clean-up action at Bandra West

Decongested orderliness outside the station now. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Decongested orderliness outside the station now. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Ever since he took charge of the Bandra traffic division, Police Inspector Nitin Patil has heralded a wave of traf-fixes in the busy belt outside Bandra and Khar stations on the western side. Apart from collecting Rs 18 lakh in fines, he has managed to weed out errant and illegal auto drivers, bringing order into an otherwise chaotic scene commuters were greeted with every day.

Patil was earlier working in the Crime Branch. In August 2018, he took over as the in-charge for the traffic division of the heavily congested Bandra, which also covers Khar in its jurisdiction. Speaking to mid-day, Patil said, "I was posted in the Crime Branch's Unit IX and its office is hardly half a kilometer away from the station. The crowd emerging out of the station after a day's hard work was further harrowed by the autorickshaw drivers. I always felt that if I am transferred to this particular division of the traffic police, this would be my priority on the very first day. I don't know how, but I got posted in the same unit just a few years later."

Traffic congestion outside Bandra station on the western side before Nitin Patil took charge
Traffic congestion outside Bandra station on the western side before Nitin Patil took charge

Naturally, his first order of business was dealing with the traffic menace outside the two stations in the west. The first thing he did in that direction was getting the details of all the autorickshaw drivers from both stations under his jurisdictions. He then began meeting with the drivers and observed which group was troubling others.

Following that, he and his team started taking action against violators who were not adhering to the lane rules, carrying more passengers, driving without the dress code and badge, refusing fare, etc. Patil instructed his team to keep up the momentum and not make the action a one-day thing. Once the railway stations were done, he targeted Bandstand, Carter Road, Hill Road, Linking Road and SV Road.

The area outside Khar railway station was disorderly and full of traffic earlier
The area outside Khar railway station was disorderly and full of traffic earlier

Patil also sensitised local shopkeepers and gave out his number to locals and rickshaw drivers. The ALM (advance locality management) members in the area also got in touch with him and updated him about all traffic issues in the locality.

The traffic detox
Starting with the decongestion, areas outside Khar and Bandra stations were barricaded first to keep the rickshaw drivers in one lane. As a result, outside Bandra station, there is now a queue for passengers to hail an autorickshaw which won't refuse fare.

Chaos has made way for orderliness now
Chaos has made way for orderliness now

Another lane without barricades was also created for share autos, but this was made on the opposite side of the divider to further prevent congestion. Earlier, the lanes were in the same space, creating massive jams blocking the road for all vehicles. Now, buses and other vehicles can move easily in the space.

Meanwhile in Khar, one lane was barricaded for autorickshaws to directly go to SV and Link roads. A no-entry zone was created for going towards Kabootar Khana after taking the shortcut for SV road. That zone is now exclusive for BEST buses. This has helped reducing chaos and traffic outside Khar.

WhatsApp group was formed
The decongestion efforts extended online too. The locals have a WhatsApp group with the inspector of their area to report anyone found violating rules. ALM members, too, directly reach out Patil and his team instead of tweeting to the Mumbai police.

In addition to this, well-behaved rickshaw drivers have also become the eyes and ears of the police by informing them, with photographs, about any driver who breaks rules. Patil said, "There were lot of complaints from the public about these rickshaw drivers creating a mess outside both railway stations. I started this drive against them with my team by penalising such drivers. I visit both stations every day. We are also listening to the drivers' concerns against a few rickshaw drivers who operate in groups and trouble others. We've taken action against all of them."

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Doing a fine job
All of this discipline has also fetched the department some plum penalties. "In the past two months, we began a special drive to collect pending e-challan fines and collected around Rs 18 lakh from all kinds of penalised drivers. In the past five months, we have collected around Rs 4 lakh in fines from 13,000 rickshaw drivers," said Patil.

"This was a team effort. We managed to do this with the help of locals. Now, I get calls from autorickshaw drivers if they notice anyone creating a mess and causing a traffic jam. It's like they're working as a team and coordinating with us for better traffic management," he added.

Rs 4 lakh
Amount of fines collected from 13,000 rickshaw drivers

Better traffic management is the goal
Joint commissioner of police, (traffic) Amitesh Kumar told mid-day, "We have been taking efforts to discipline the premises outside the stations and in places off high footfall. The railway stations were taken up as a top priority with the view to create better traffic management. We've been taking action against autorickshaw and taxi drivers. Apart from this, we're also having discussions with them in order to work with them for better traffic management."

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