By: Seram Neken
“In fact, the authority concerned is more active about implementing traffic rules and regulations only during the road safety week observances. There is neither durability nor sustainability of the maintenance of traffic regulations in Imphal. Sometimes the police perform their duties hearth and soul, sometimes they are negligent enough to cause accidents and undue jams. For obvious reasons, the state police sometimes conduct hectic drives for helmet use by two-wheeler riders in the city. However, such drives are not durable in practice. During the VVIPs or VIPs passage, the traffic police personnel including high profile police officers remain concerned and vigilant about smooth traffic control to show off their dutiful appearance. As soon as the VIPs leave, the public vehicles are left uncared for on the congested streets.”
To walk on foot or to ride a bicycle is more convenient and serves our urgency of purpose, if we are to set out for an emergency work in Imphal city particularly in the Khwairamband Bazar. The inadequacy of parking space for motor vehicles and traffic jam often jeopardize our urgency. Congestion of vehicles is really a problem in the streets of Imphal city.
Very recently, the police damaged windshields and side glasses of many vehicles for violating traffic rules and regulations and also pushed down all two wheelers parked in no parking zone of Paona Bazar area in Imphal city. The actions of the controlling personnel were widely condemned by the public for their high handedness and out of law activities. However, the problem arises only due to inadequate parking space. The commuters face a lot of inconveniences while shopping in the market because of unavailability of parking space. On the other hand, the police (traffic) personnel frequently hear scolds from both the public and the authority for their inability to control the huge numbers of two-wheelers and four-wheelers congested in the market. Who is to blame ? Is it the traffic police or the commuters who have created problems of traffic jams in Imphal city ? Thanks to a friend Rinku Khumukcham, an electronic media journalist working in ISTV News for creating a discussion platform on the issue in the social networking site ‘Facebook’.
According to Rinku Khumukcham, ‘traffic congestion caused by lack of proper traffic policy, lack of coordination among the traffic police and lack of awareness among the people is a major problem in Imphal city’. He says that market usually wakes up at around 3 am whereas traffic police comes out for duty as late as 7 am. Hundreds of street vendor women who rush to the city in very early hour are often at high risk of falling prey to aggressive vehicles both heavy and light.
In fact, the authority concerned is more active about implementing traffic rules and regulations only during the road safety week observances. There is neither durability nor sustainability of the maintenance of traffic regulations in Imphal. Sometimes the police perform their duties hearth and soul, sometimes they are negligent enough to cause accidents and undue jams. For obvious reasons, the state police sometimes conduct hectic drives for helmet use by two-wheeler riders in the city. However, such drives are not durable in practice. During the VVIPs or VIPs passage, the traffic police personnel including high profile police officers remain concerned and vigilant about smooth traffic control to show off their dutiful appearance. As soon as the VIPs leave, the public vehicles are left uncared for on the congested streets.
Shyamsundar Haobam, a journalist expresses his opinion that the public is to be blamed for not following traffic rules and the police for not implementing awareness campaigns on traffic rules. He says even if strict traffic rules are imposed, there would be chaos if people do not follow it. Entry of heavy vehicles should not be allowed within the city during hectic day time (say between 7 am and 7pm daily) and restriction of parking in market areas should also be made applicable to vehicles of security personnel (not on duty) and VIPs.
Niran Thongbam, another journalist opined that traffic congestion in Imphal city is mainly due to junkyard of pre-owned vehicles, burgeoning number of diesel auto-rickshaws, road dug-outs for incomplete sewerage project, cosmetic beautification of Imphal with unfinished road expansions, unmindful vehicles of VIPs, VVIPs, central and state security forces etc. He expresses that the law enforcers should remain a role model for the public to follow. He blames the transport authority for issuing illegal licenses (although they are correcting it now with computerization). Road/town planning system is completely in jeopardy with no effective footpath, no subway and no well defined track.
Rajesh Hijam dwells on the disobedience of traffic rules and regulations by the law enforcers. He says that all rules presuppose obedience. When some high-handed security people or VIPs frequently break the rules, the public can not be forced to obey the rules.
In fact, the problem of traffic jams and congestion arises due to inadequate roads, foot-paths and parking space. During the town planning session, parking shall be on top priority, whereas it seems that parking space is not considered as important aspect of all planning in Manipur. The huge number of vehicles (2-wheelers and 4-wheelers including heavy vehicles) on the roads need to be parked some or the other space. If there is no proper parking at all, the roads will consequently be congested. The foot-paths are often utilized by the shops nearby as their display spaces, or street vendors usually occupy the foot-paths. The commuters face inconveniences to walk on foot-paths. The security forces or traffic police often break the one-way rule, as if they are all excluded from the traffic rules and regulations. The educational institutions located inside the Khwairamband market such as Nirmalabas school, Johnstone school and others also create congestion with a number of school vans remaining parked on the roadside for long hours. The government offices like the Family Welfare department in the market area, the state Assembly Hall, even the Raj Bhavan etc. occupy a vast area, which otherwise may be utilized for parking and vendors shed for the convenience of traders and commuters.
The following measures may be suggested for solution to the traffic woes in Imphal city:
1) If possible, the Raj Bhavan (Governor’s residence) may be shifted to a suitable location so as to have space for a huge parking in public interest. Those who need to frequent the governor can very well visit him with costly vehicles and tight security within minutes, whereas the poor traders and public need such a space inside the market.
2) Plying of city buses to disallow all types of motor vehicles inside the market area is highly required. The city bus shall ply around the city in a frequency of 5 minutes during daytime.
3) Huge Parking places around 2 kilometres range from the main market may be established. The city buses shall carry people from parking area to the market on payment of a minimal fare.
4) All vehicles except for those maintaining law and order and traffic in city shall be banned to enter the Khwairamband Market. Vehicles of security people which are not on duty and those of VIPs shall also be disallowed to park inside the market.
5) Loading and unloading of goods by heavy vehicles including water tankers may be permitted only during the night.
6) Cleaning or cleansing of the city may be done during night time only.
7) The traffic police shall be equipped with hi-tech equipment and vehicles for effective performance of their duties.
8) Heavy fines and penalties shall be levied from disobedient public.
9) Bicycle riding may be encouraged among the public. It saves road and parking spaces, besides minimizing pollution, improving health and economy of the users.