For those living in Bengaluru these days, the one major source of discomfort is traffic on the roads. It is remarkable how much vehicular traffic seems to be increasing by, every few months! Obviously, we have not done a good job with executing on plans to improve the infrastructure in time for this increase. The Metro project may well be one of the most delayed of its kind, anywhere in the world. It seems like the Namma Metro has been in progress forever and all we see are new dates for completion every few weeks in the newspapers. The whining about the traffic is never ending, just as the traffic on the roads.
For a daily commuter, the stream of vehicles, the abrupt lane shifts, the late decisions to turn, the bus and/ or truck breakdowns seem never ending and ubiquitous. Sometimes, I look at newcomers to the city, from smaller towns and villages and notice their lost look. They cannot fathom the volume of traffic and complexity involved in reaching a destination that is in line of sight! I used to hear stories of people taking 30 mins to cross a road. This was many years ago. Now, on the ORR, the same person may stand there for 30 days before they get a chance to cross!
What remains remarkable is that companies continue to setup shop in the same vicinity as the already overcrowded areas. Human greed knows no bounds and so it is with the real estate developers. Open swamp lands are filled with mud and sand, buildings are established and the space is provided for rent at lesser rates. The Service roads are a shambles and the buildings sprout up with the architectural nous of a 5 year old. Who do we blame for this sort of a situation? The Government? Maybe it is we, the employees of these companies, that are to blame. We are all part of the crime, aren’t we? We chose to work here, so companies find talent pool here. Even then, don’t the same people see the poor quality of construction, the lack of infrastructure? Year after year, 100,000 employees are added thanks to newer, swankier looking buildings coming up in the same area of the city. Where is the space on the roads for this kind of spurt in growth? How callous can one get in their pursuit of power and money?
It is true that many, many major cities in the world suffer from congestion. Maybe this is the price we pay for what is perceived as development. How much more time before something gives in this gloomy scenario? There is hope. We can always hope for a miracle and a change in fortunes. Will that ever happen? Traveling on these roads, looking out, all that is visible is dust, smoke, wheels and people on the road. Every person has a story. We are all united in the suffering.