Traffic wardens fight many an odd

They are underpaid and have no job security

The city owes much of the success of the paid parking system to traffic wardens who weather heavy rain, intense heat, and, quite often, foul-mouthed motorists, to ensure a smooth traffic. While the facility provides employment to several people, mostly women, from underprivileged sections, they remain outside the ambit of welfare measures and have no job security.

The City Corporation has 147 traffic wardens on their rolls with wages currently fixed at ₹500 a day, lower than the lowest minimum wage of ₹600 fixed by the State government. They also earn much less than home guards who are engaged by the police through the Fire and Rescue Services Department to assist in regulating traffic. In contrast to wardens, the home guards, who earn a daily wage of ₹750, has their service conditions guaranteed by law.

Traffic wardens work on two shifts with some coming from places as far as Nedumangad. They were recently provided collection targets depending on the road stretch and vehicle density. For instance, a warden manning the 200-m stretch at Pulimoodu is tasked with collecting a minimum of ₹850 during their six-hour shift. The Corporation has apparently set the targets to meet the financial burden of their salaries from the parking revenue.

No dearth

Officials, however, point out that the civic body has no dearth of funds to implement a considerable wage increase and provide other benefits. “It recently came to light that the Corporation has excess funds of ₹27 lakh that were generated from the seven prepaid auto-rickshaw counters alone. The revenue obtained from the paid parking system on the model roads could also add up to a huge sum,” a source said.

Sheeja V.N. of Venkode, who has been working as a traffic warden for seven years, says they have been demanding identity cards for long, but to no avail. “Despite working for several years, we have nothing to prove our occupation. Any sort of identification documents would benefit us, particularly when we have to seek services from government offices,” she said.

Complaints of motorists misbehaving with wardens are also rife. “Many people, including government employees, abuse us after being asked to pay for parking vehicles. Some motorcyclists even refuse to pay ₹2 for the facility,” another female traffic warden said.

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