Matador Madness in Jammu

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matadoor madness (2)While the roads in Jammu are limited, and it is unlikely that an expansion will happen, the problems on roads due to ever increasing traffic have multiplied in the city. The traffic issue has been compounded as majority of matadors that operate daily on all the routes of Jammu city and rural areas do not follow rules and regulations, and create chaos. While no doubt this mode of transport has been a boon for the citizens but the problem arises when these buses dont follow any traffic rules. The congestion on city roads is particularly caused by these vehicles as they stop wherever they deem necessary to pick a passenger, and do not mind stopping the vehicle in the middle of the road even if it can cause an accident. With music blaring loud, and the driver on a high while chewing a Gutkha there is no stopping him from chasing passengers, and competing with other vehicles as they race against each other to maximize the daily earnings.

matadoor madness (5)The traffic police appears to be a mute spectator as the matador lobby is strong, and powerful, and also seems to grease the system in the right places. This is also the reason that while private vehicles particularly bikes are challaned in the city there is seldom a drive against commercial vehicles like matadors. There is no question asked by the police even though the vehicles are overloaded, driven rashly, and stopped everywhere except the matador stops. The rashly driven vehicles have caused accidents several times but since there are many legal loopholes the culprits know that there is little which can happen in an accident case.

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The overloading in these vehicles also leads to increased cases of eve-teasing, molestation, and harassment but no one is ready to look into these issues despite being raised several times. Several complaints of over-charging, fleecing of tourists, and loud music blaring from these matadors have been reported but the traffic officials seems to be sleeping. An important issue which has cropped up is the use of mobile phones by the drivers which can put the lives of many in danger. Rakesh, who travels from Gandhinagar tells that recently a scooterist was almost knocked by a matador as the driver was trying to put the phone on charger. Such type of problems are daily, he says, adding that these are overlooked by the police.

matadoor madness (6)Another resident asserts that the local matadors and mini-buses have become a menace hindering the normal movement of vehicular traffic. He also asks why the matador drivers, and conductors are not in uniform as per the government rules. “The vehicles are overloaded, there are no stops, no scheduled timing, they keep waiting for passengers, people are forced to cling to the doors”, he says. Sunil Kumar, a Nagrota resident says that there is over-speeding on most routes, and often people are forced to sit on the roof which is quite dangerous. In fact, the civil society in Jammu wants that firstly the local matador operators should be controlled, and asked to operate in an organized manner, and secondly a more reliable, and comfortable transport system like the metro should be introduced in Jammu as is being done in major cities across the country. The matador system has served the city well in past but Jammu needs a better, and more eco-friendly mode of transport, feel people.

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Pics: Sandeep