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Traffic Sentinel Scheme Backfires, Goans Take Law in Their own Hands

One of the most talked about things in the state currently is the Traffic Sentinel and none of the Goan is happy with it.
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One of the most talked about things in the state currently is the Traffic Sentinel and none of the Goan is happy with it. Most of the people want a revocation of the Sentinel Scheme as it is creating a serious financial obligation which no one wants to take. The traffic sentinel scheme started by the Goa Traffic Police seems to be going out of the hands as people of Goa are now taking law into their own hands to show their protest against the scheme.

Road Accidents have become a rising problem in Goa. People drive recklessly without any safety measures and end up risking their lives and also the lives of their near ones. The Goa Government had come up with various measures like; wearing helmets, no triple rides, and even put up heavy fines for violators.

The cases of drunk driving were a major issue to the traffic police. The police check posts were put up during the times of any occasions, to ensure that people are not drunk driving and causing havoc on the roads.

Goa has witnessed many road accidents last year due to negligence and especially drunk driving. In the times of New Year’s Eve, the roads are often crowded with vehicles causing a lot of commotion which sometimes gets hard to control. Besides this, people drink too much and ride their vehicle which can sometimes prove to be detrimental.

Goa Director General of Police giving away the awards to the Traffic Sentinels

Last year, cops had booked around 311 cases of drunk driving during New Year’s Eve alone. It is also shocking to know that Traffic Police fined half of the state’s population in 2018. According to Hindustan Times, Police in Goa have prosecuted around 7.74 lakh traffic violators in 2018, which amounts to more than half of the state’s population of 1.5 million, according to statistics released by Director General of Police Muktesh Chander.

With all such events, the Government of Goa came up with a scheme in order to put a hold on these violators. The new government scheme called Traffic Sentinel in Goa, according to which, any person can report traffic violations by capturing a photo or video of the person violating the traffic rules. In return of this reports, the person earns points and will eventually win cash rewards.

This was mainly done to help encourage people to follow rules and keep a check on violators in case of no authority around. This indeed was a good initiative taken up by the government and led to a decrease in road accidents in this year. However, a number of violations have been reported and the public seems to be not happy with this scheme.

According to Goa Prism, one such incident was reported wherein, a mob of around 200 people protested against a shopkeeper who had reported the traffic violations through a CCTV installed in front of the shop. The tense atmosphere, the furious mob had to be submerged by the intervention of the cops. The shopkeeper was evacuated and his shop was closed down.

This kind of similar protest happened recently, wherein a traffic sentinel, a volunteer appointed by the Goa traffic police to report traffic violations, became a victim of mob assault. According to Business Standard, Alfred Almeida was assaulted by 50 persons while he was photographing traffic violations from his car in the port town of Vasco in Goa.

According to NDTV, Goa Police, in a statement issued earlier in January, had warned against increasing assaults on traffic sentinels who have registered with the state traffic police, claiming the app-based traffic violation reporting mechanism was playing “a major role in creating road safety awareness by seeking assistance from citizens”.

Speaking on the same, Michael Lobo, DY Speaker and BJP MLA, stated that “The road infrastructure in Goa is in shambles. The sentinel scheme has become a racket with these volunteers preying on unsuspecting drivers even in the remotest corners of Goa. There will be social unrest if the scheme continues.”

According to Herald Goa, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has opposed the manner in which the Traffic Sentinel Scheme is operating while demanding that government replace it with a more systematic plan to bring in discipline on roads. It is unfortunate that people do not want to follow rules and abide by the law and order system of the state. There has been a discussion going on removing the scheme as it has caused a lot of public rage in the past year.

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