Kochi City traffic police rope in civil defence volunteers for festival season traffic control

In market and Broadway areas, volunteers will also ensure maintenance of COVID-19 protocol

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the City traffic police have roped in 125 civil defence volunteers for traffic and crowd control during this festival season.

They have been deployed across the City Traffic West limits and will continue on duty at least till the eve of Onam. Fifty volunteers each are being deployed in two shifts from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“We have identified 35 points within our limits where they are deployed on a priority basis with the primary focus being on reining in unauthorised parking and ensuring lane traffic along narrow lanes to avert blocks. Among these include seven points in the market and Broadway area, where their service also includes maintenance of COVID-19 protocol to avoid overcrowding,” said T.B. Vijayan, Assistant Commissioner, Traffic West.

Volunteers were given a detailed briefing by the police on how to go about their job before being deployed across 12 sectors within the Traffic West limits. “Each sector is under the supervision of a sub inspector and a civil defence volunteer who serves as a sector head,” said Binu Mitran, Ernakulam divisional warden, Civil Defence.

Volunteers have found the service quite an experience. “It has given us an idea about the hardships faced by cops put on day-long traffic though our duty time is restricted to five hours. We have been asked to take photographs of traffic violations like unauthorised parking and send them to the police officer in charge of each sector. However, we mostly try to reason with them and convince them about their folly,” said Mathew C. George, a civil defence volunteer deployed as the head of one of the sectors.

The traffic police have found the experiment quite effective to tide over the challenges in enforcement owing to manpower shortage and are planning to adopt the system more often in the future. “Our primary duty is to assist the fire and rescue force in the event of an emergency or disaster. So, in the event of such a crisis, the entire lot of volunteers deployed for traffic regulation will be called back,” said Mr. Mitran.

The district has 50 active civil defence volunteers each in each of the 18 fire stations with a back-up of an equal number. Out of the active volunteers, 490 have already received State-level training.

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