Hundreds of people from other districts come to the city to celebrate Pongal. Urapakkam, which is situated on NH 45, is one of the most crowded areas, especially during festival season as it is one of the points of entry to the city. “Hundreds of people pass Urapakkam on a daily basis and the footfall multiplies during the festive season. For the last two days, four of us were stationed at the crowded junctions in order to help the traffic cop on duty,” says Mohamed Mubarak, a volunteer and the safety officer at an Comstar Automotive Technologies. The other volunteers—Vijay, Dominic, Shanmugam and Senthamizh too worked tirelessly to control the traffic and pedestrian movement. All of them volunteered for traffic regulation after finishing their day-job and even cut-short their Pongal celebrations to help control traffic.
“The signal at the junction here has not been functional after the post came down when Cyclone Vardah hit the city. Since then the police officers stationed here have had a challenging time managing the traffic,” says Mubarak. Due to the lack of the signal, it is the pedestrians who suffer the most as the traffic moves from all sides, he says. “Our job is to have an easy traffic flow and help pedestrians cross the road safely. Traffic here can be quite chaotic,” says Mubarak. He and others in the team wore the reflective jacket so that they can be spotted easily.
Since its initiation, Thozhan has been working towards road safety. Every year, the state celebrates Road Safety Week in January. Extensive initiatives are undertaken by the traffic police to help spread awareness among citizens. “This year we have plans to set up a model RTO and most importantly reach out school students about safe driving. We have come across many instances where students from schools and colleges drive without proper documents,” says Radhakirshnan M of Thozhan. They want to reach out to schools and ask them to ensure that students do not drive without a licence.”If anyone is found guilty, the family of the child must be warned,” he says.
From January 29, Thozhan will have volunteers cycling from Kanyakumari and reaching Chennai on February 5. Along the way, they will spread awareness on road safety. “Four volunteers have confirmed so far, who will go to bus stops, RTOs, schools and colleges, to talk to people about road safety,” said Radhakrishnan.