PETALING JAYA: Are the traffic police on duty at the Jalan Othman roundabout playing favourites and worsening the congestion during the evening peak hours?
Following a letter from a reader published in Streets on Jan 25, which claimed that traffic policemen were hampering traffic flow in the area at peak hours, we met up with Petaling Jaya district traffic chief DSP Wong Siw Choon to clear the air.
He began by taking Streets to the actual site to see how the traffic flow is managed.
Wong said the public should look at the bigger picture instead of just thinking about themselves.
Wong explained that the jam at the Jalan Othman roundabout was caused by the heavy flow of vehicles from Jalan Templer (from the direction of Assunta Hospital) in the evenings.
This is because traffic from the Federal Highway, Section 14, Jalan Yong Shook Lin and Jalan 222 flow into Jalan Templer and head towards the Jalan Othman roundabout. Most of the motorists are actually heading towards the NPE and Old Klang Road.
The Jalan Othman roundabout is also used by vehicles from Jalan Gasing, Jalan Penchala, Jalan Othman and Jalan Selangor heading towards the NPE and Old Klang Road.
Wong said over 50,000 cars pass by the Jalan Othman roundabout from 5pm to 7.15pm on weekdays.
"The volume of vehicles increases drastically after 6pm, especially along Jalan Templer. So my traffic personnel are stationed at the roundabout as early as 5pm to ensure the flow is smooth.
Otherwise, the jam along Jalan Templer can spill into the Federal Highway and nobody wants that to happen.
"Hence, we stop the jam around the Jalan Othman roundabout before it starts because once the jam starts, it will take a longer time for my traffic personnel to ease the situation," he said.
"There's an urgent need to allow more vehicles to pass from the busy side of the road. In this case, it's the flow from Jalan Templer."
In his letter, the reader claimed that the traffic policemen on duty in the evenings seemed to favour those approaching from Assunta Hospital. He said that those coming from Jalan Gasing towards the roundabout were always victimised and had to wait a long time for their turn.
He also questioned why the contra flow system which was tested last year had been stopped.
During our check at the roundabout, we find that the traffic policemen have blocked off one side of the roundabout with a yellow tape.
Motorists coming from Jalan Othman (from PJ Old Town) would need to make a U-turn near the Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Aziz if they were heading towards Jalan Templer or the NPE. This plan is considered ideal as there were fewer cars from PJ Old Town heading for the roundabout.
The traffic policemen would then release the traffic from Jalan Templer for two minutes. This is followed by the release of the traffic from Jalan Gasing for about a minute.
"We double the flow from Jalan Templer to ensure that the busier traffic is dispersed faster. I believe the complainant lives in Section 5 in Jalan Gasing.
"I urge residents there to please be considerate and wait just a little longer. We want everyone to reach home fast. In fact, by 7.15pm the traffic situation is better," said Wong.
The traffic policemen also demonstrated how blocking one part of the road and allowing more cars from Jalan Templer to go towards the roundabout actually result in no traffic jam at the roundabout.
Within a minute of the road being temporarily unblocked and the traffic allowed to move without the supervision of the traffic police, chaos reigned, with motorists switching from one lane to another.
"I feel that my traffic personnel are doing an excellent job. Without their assistance and the traffic management, nobody will be able to reach home quickly.
"There may also be disputes among motorists, honking and accidents because of the chaos," he said.
Wong said before 6.30pm, the objective is to allow more motorists from Jalan Templer into the roundabout area. After 6.30pm, motorists from Jalan Gasing and Jalan Selangor would be given priority.
On the contra flow system, Wong said that would mainly benefit residents of Section 5 but add more stress to Jalan Templer in the evenings.
He said the present road traffic arrangement had been used for the past two years and had benefited the road users.
Wong said the flow from Jalan Templer towards Old Klang Road, Taman Dato Harun, Taman Sri Manja and Subang Jaya was also bearable due to this arrangement.
"We control the traffic at the Jalan Othman roundabout only from Monday to Friday, from 7am until 9am, and 5pm until 7.15pm. We hope to receive cooperation from the public during this busy hours.
"If thousands of cars are stuck in the jam, it will lead to unhappy drivers. Unhappy drivers end up losing their temper and that leads to road bullying and arguments. It's a chain reaction.
"It's unfair of residents to only think of their convenience instead of looking at the bigger picture.
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