SHILLONG, Oct 08: Recently, IIM Shillong’s Centre for Development of Northeastern Region (CeDNER) organized a brainstorming session on the “Burgeoning traffic congestion in Shillong” at IIM Shillong campus. The session was attended by key stakeholders including principals and representatives from colleges and educational institutions, retired officials, concerned citizens, representatives amongst commercial vehicle drivers, media fraternity, and the police department of Meghalaya among others.
The session opened with the Superintendent of Police, East Khasi Hills, Davis N.R Marak presenting some information on the current situation of traffic circulation in Shillong. Marak highlighted issues such as increase in the number of vehicles in Shillong over the past few years (especially due to easy availability of loans) and lack of planned parking spaces within the city. Some emphasis was laid on the shortage of traffic personnel required to manage the traffic.
The issues rotating around schools and universities were likewise raised. Perspectives ranging from lack of parking spot accessible for schools and universities, and furthermore insufficient space for people on foot to stroll on/cross the street, to engagement of peddling on the strolling space accessible were mooted and deliberated upon.
Regarding public transport, it was pointed out that all SPTS (Shillong Public Transport Service) buses take the common route which adds to the congestion problem. The police department expressed the need for a traffic engineer or consultant to come up with alternative solutions.
The session even saw participation from the local cab drivers who expressed their concerns as well. There were talks on the easy permit of license and increase in the number of taxi stands owing to a growth in tourist footfall.
The police department suggested some short term and long term solutions for the mentioned issues. Short term measures included better on street parking management, pavement markings, traffic signage, increase in the number of traffic marshals, renovation of pedestrian footpaths, car pooling, rationalization of taxi stands and regulation of taxi permits.
Long term solutions discussed were improvement of intersections through circular roads so that no vehicle stops, provision of school & college buses, construction of bus bays and taxi bays, hiring traffic consultants, construction of public walking ramps and issue of E-challan which can be developed by NIC.It was prescribed that there must be exhaustive confirmation of the purchaser before buy of vehicles and to guarantee whether the purchaser has enough parking spot or not.
It was also suggested that heavy fines should be levied for illegal parking so that citizens are more cautious about it. To make things more manageable, the concept of community parking space should be introduced.
Inspired by the policy implemented in London, the idea of congestion pricing was also introduced wherein a person can be charged extra for driving or parking during peak hours which would reduce the number of active vehicles on the road.
To settle the licensing issue, it was suggested to introduce a booklet with all the rules and regulations that a candidate has to go through apart from basic driving test in order to get the driving license. People should also be encouraged to prefer 2-wheelers and public transport over private 4-wheeled vehicles.
Once all the suggestions and recommendations were made, a noteworthy point was made on the policy implementation and authority. With respect to authority, it was debated as to who will spearhead the plan consisting of these new initiatives. After considerable contention, it was presumed that the ministry of transport along with the urban department can drive these proposed measures.
“Moreover, the entire implementation cannot be a success with the help of authorities alone but needs thorough cooperation from public”, one of the stakeholders pointed out.
All the stakeholders brought their perspectives and ideas to the table which proved to be a huge starting step to address this issue. The session was enlightened by the presence of Prof. Keya Sengupta, Director in charge, IIM Shillong, who expressed her gratitude towards the speakers present in the conference.
It is expected that more follow up conferences will be held in the coming time to track the progress on this initiative.