Keen on improving travelling experience on the highways, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is considering to offer a clutch of user-friendly amenities including cleaner toilets, speed monitoring and free Wi-Fi.
Plans are also afoot to put in place a well-equipped patrolling system and providing ambulances with all basic needs to take care of victims of road accidents.
NHAI chairman Raghav Chandra told FE that the authority is already in talks with PSU oil marketing companies for setting up modern look-alike toilets with all facilities such as safety tank and clean wash basins and separate stands for men and women in around 12,000 fuel outlets across highways at an estimated cost of Rs 10 lakh each.
“I have already discussed the matter with PSU oil marketing companies such as Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. I am also going to talk to the petroleum minister on this issue. Since we provide them with access roads, we are requesting the cash-rich oil companies to set up toilets as per standards set by us at their cost,” Chandra said.
IOC has around 6,000 retail outlets across highways and another 6,000 is almost evenly owned by BPCL and HPCL. Chandra said the NHAI would not object to if these companies charge from users, but they all have to follow a common standard and maintain cleanliness for which these companies might rope in outsiders. Designs of the proposed toilets have been broadly arrived at. Persons manning these toilets should be well-uniformed.
The total length of national highways is 96,260 km, which is a mere 1.7% of the 33 lakh km of road network in the country. However, highways carry over 40% of the total road traffic.
Sensing the need to standardise and improve the management system of the highways, Chandra said in six months time video cameras and speed monitors will be installed in some of the major highways on a pilot basis. Wi-Fi facility would also be provided. The NHAI has already consulted various foreign firms for their suggestions.
“Patrolling is another area where we want to concentrate on. However, it should not mixed with policing. We are not sure now whether we should go for PPP or do it all by ourselves. If it is done by the private sector, we will pay them. I have asked BCG to help us choose a model,” Chandra said.
The chairman said ambulances to be provided by patrolling companies should so equipped that these do not just be good enough to carry dead bodies, but be equipped to save an injured person. These should have stretchers and have paramedical staff in each of them. This will surely bring down the number of deaths on the highways, he said, adding that in the next one to one-and-a-half half years everything should be in place. An average of 400 people die each day on Indian roads.