Traffic congestion causes recent conflict, government still clueless how overcome manmade disasters

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Editorial

Thomas Lim
The city was in a fix due to traffic congestion and heavy downpour of rains for the last two days in the state capital of Meghalaya. The ongoing half yearly examination of most the schools in Shillong is said to be the main cause for the traffic snarls during school hours. In the evening traffic jams are caused by the urgency to rush home before the curfew hours which have slowed down the day to day activities. The state government seems to have forgotten that the May 31 incident erupted due to the traffic congestion, yet the Shillong Traffic Police is still clueless on how to ease the manmade disasters which have choked the city.

While people the world over are advocating for walkathons and marathons mainly to revive the culture to walking, the luxury of motor-vehicles has enslaved the present day generation to use vehicles even for the shortest distance. Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya is worst hit, as the commuters have been pampered by the shared taxi system in place here which is available at a very economical fare. Hence, even the huge number of cabbies is unable to cater to the demand. Worst so, the public buses too are not plying to every nook and corner of the city and have created the artificial scarcity of public transportation.
The taxi drivers in the state capital can easily avail the professional driving license, hence most of the drivers lack etiquette while dealing with the passengers and most of them openly smoke, some even drink alcohol openly while driving. The taxi drivers can stop at any spot either to pick up or drop off their passengers, while most designated locations for parking for commercial vehicles have turned into a gambling spot and have added to the lack of traffic culture in the city.   
In the past, plying of trucks through the city was considered as the main cause of the traffic snarls in the city, especially whenever there is a breakdown. The blame then shifted to the tourist taxies. Now the trucks are diverted through Shillong Bye Pass and the parking for the tourist taxies were shifted out from the heart of the city yet there is no relief to the traffic congestions. Even prior to this, the tourist taxies and sumos were considered as the causes of traffic jams. Now, all have been pushed away from the heart of the city about four years back, yet the situation is still the same.
As mentioned, lack of traffic culture is also one of the main causes; it is not only the passengers of SPTS who stop the buses at their convenience. It is same in the case of cabbies, private and official vehicles, where demarcated embarkation and disembarkation point set up are not utilized.
Too much influence by the politicians and bureaucrats makes it impossible to execute the legislations and carry out judicial power. The outcome is that it is impossible to regulate traffic in the state capital and other headquarters. The unplanned development has not only destroyed the natural beauty of the state, the bad sense of aesthetics has choked the city as well. Now, it is impossible to have pure air and clean streets to walk on.
The Shillong Traffic Police which has tested every suggestion to ease the congestion is now frustrated and has resolved to rigorous clamping of any vehicle, not sparing even those carrying sick or aged people in the car. Meanwhile, it is a nightmare for all the vehicle owners to find some parking place as the parking lots are always full or in the most inconvenient locations.
It is time for Shillong Traffic Police to concentrate on streamlining the traffic flow by following either the double lane or single flow, and compound the vehicles which cross or overtake in the lane, like the traffic police from Mumbai, Pondicherry and other states do. Hence, the collection of revenue continues and relaxes the fine on parking, as the concerned authorities failed to provide sufficient parking lots for the ever growing numbers of vehicles being added to the streets on daily basis.
According to the reports, an average of 40 vehicles is being added to Shillong on a daily basis, while the parking lots or some allotted parking space are stagnant. It is time for all the vehicle owners to come together and fight for their rights to have more parking places around the city and not to allow the traffic police to keep compounding on parking as the authorities who collect taxes on every vehicle sold have failed to provide the space.
The state government should seek the cooperation from the bank authorities in easing out the traffic congestion by seeking a clearance certificate that the customer has parking place for the vehicle, otherwise the same vehicle will be parked at the road side, thus, choking the free flow of the vehicles.
The state government offices should have allotted place for the employees to park their vehicle. The contemporary office goers of all ranks are vehicle owners, while no parking lots are provided in any of the government offices.
Same is the case for hotels in the city, not keeping to the Court ruling of providing parking place to the customers. The excuse is that the hotel was set up before the Order was passed; it is just making a mockery of the judiciary. The Court must conduct checking on hotels and hospitals to provide parking places and compound them. The Court can even shut down the hotel while in the case of hospitals; directives should be given to expand it so that there is smooth flow of vehicles and ambulances, especially during emergencies.
With a new High Court Judge, the new Governor, and Director General of Police in the state, it is hoped that new and innovative plans could be devised to ease the traffic congestion and solve the parking nightmare of the citizens besides streamlining the erring bus drivers and passengers.
The Educational institutions till date could not comply with the Judicial Order to east the traffic congestion on the main Highways and to allow the vehicles to drop and pick the children from the educational premises only. Hence, the city will continue to be choked during school hours.


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