Traffic Circus : Manipur Style

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Of late, much has been talked about and many (in fact all of us on the Imphal road) have been complaining on the TRAFFIC CONGESTION in and around Imphal.
When asked, in simple terms one would say, ‘Traffic Congestion’ is an excess of vehicles on road demanding for more space than the available road capacity resulting in slower speeds, sometimes much slower than normal speeds, and increased in queuing of vehicles. However, take a closer look and it will not be an exaggeration to say that, “it’s more of ‘traffic confusions’ than traffic congestions on Imphal roads.”
There are numbers of factor causing traffic congestions. And if a layman would look around the roads of Imphal, we would notice few of the following factors that are causing road traffic congestion.
Bad Traffic Management
For sure, everyone (for obvious reason) would point their fingers on the bad management of traffic by the authorized traffic managers/police/personnel. Much has been said, seen on roads (by public) and publish both on print and electronic media about them and their unethical deeds. And all would agree that none of the reports are wrong. They seem to have no clue about traffic rules themselves, forget about them enforcing it on the road. But, they seems to change into a different mutant kind of a beings – they become super active and alert, if some bureaucrats or politicians or anyone with authority are to pass through Imphal roads. (Here again, I wonder if there is a separate traffic rules for them). If at all they are to give priority to any vehicle, it would be very much appreciated if the ambulance and fire-brigade trucks are given free passage. The focus of the traffic managers seem to be more piercing towards the autos and goods vehicles, they are more interested on the thing that the auto drivers and goods vehicle drivers hand them (hand-to-hand on the sly). There were few incidents where we have seen them putting clamp on the vehicles parked on the no-parking zone. However, they would turn a blind eye if any vehicle belonging to Army, CRPF, Police or any cars with red-light beacon would park at the same spot. They would not even dare to look at the big SUV vehicles (fearing that it would be of influential people) but a slight vision of some kids on two wheelers, they would flung like a cheetah and catch hold of them. (Now God save these kids, if they happened to forget their driving licenses and relevant documents at home). Instead of checking vehicle papers and helmet (though I do know it’s a must), it would be appreciated by all if they give more importance to traffic flow managements and work on to reduce traffic congestions (which is the highest need of the hour).
Poor discipline of drivers/poor civic sense of public
It would be a blunt lie, if I am to say that the traffic managers do not manage traffic at all. At least on few traffic points, they try (though reluctantly) to manage the traffic flow. But their efforts are put to of no use, when public don’t obey them. Everyone (especially the ones in the big-long cars) seems to be so hurry that they would try to jump every possible traffic stops. They would push their vehicle right on the nose of traffic police. No one seems to care for the zebra crossing lines (or I wonder even if all of us know the meaning and significance of zebra crossing), and who cares whether the left side of the road is left open for the vehicles to pass through the left side, it is such an annoyance when every drivers and riders tries to get on the front in traffic stops, creating a blockade on the whole road, thus leading to traffic confusion.
Public residing next to road are also equally accountable for the traffic congestions. They own a car but not a garage. Their cars are parked right on the road as if they own the road, and quite amusingly some people would even park their cars on the footpath (now that’s a skill to get the car up on the footpath. Gasp!) And also construction materials from iron bars to bricks to sands are all kept on the roads, sometimes covering the area till the middle of the road. All these parking of cars and storing of construction materials cause high obstruction to the traffic flows, and their mere excuse of not having space to store these materials should not be their license to store or park anything they wish on the road.
Unsystematic/poorly planned roads and office buildings on main roads and unplanned parking spot
The planners seem to have less or not at all idea about town planning. No plans seem to be of a long term plans. While planning for town development, parking area or space for parking seems to have not cropped up on the heads of the planners. Most of the government buildings or offices do not have an adequate parking space. Though, there are spaces in the office compounds, even the vehicles belonging to the employees are not allowed to park inside in the name of security reasons (shame on you people – you yourself are a threat in your own work place). And this usually leads to the vehicles belonging to government servants being rested on the public roads causing immense inconveniences to traffic flow.
If we happen to pass by Babupara at night, everyone would be amazed to see how wide and big the road is. But unfortunately, the road in-front of Imphal Secretariat is being reduced to a narrow lane during day time by the cars belonging to the employees of many offices located in Babupara, Imphal. The problem is again added by the Scorpio and Bolero cars and the vehicles belonging to armed forces being double parked right upto the middle of the raod.
Parking spots at Wahengbam Leikai, Nagamapal, in front of Imphal Municipality office, RIMS gate and Sagolband Machin are few of the parking areas that are causing more hurdles instead of helping the flow of the vehicle movements and convenience for the passengers. People have now started avoiding taking these routes if they are to reach their destinations in time.
Vegetable sellers and street vendors and passenger auto-rickshaws and irresponsible under aged drivers
BT Road stretch, part of Thangal Bazaar and Paona Bazaar have literally been invaded by the vegetable sellers and street vendors, the area is almost occupied by them. It is being said that lack of enough space aftermath of earthquake has prompted the vegetable sellers to do their business on the road much to dismay and disturbance cause to the public and traffic flow. But citing ‘the above earthquake incident’ as the reason is just baseless when they are being provided an alternative place to do their business on the temporary market site.
To the already half occupied roads, the auto-rickshaws would try to budge in their way without any care for the public and other vehicles on the road. In their race to reach the parking spot before other autos, they would budge in from any direction and take over from wrong sides, and this has caused many accidents and mishaps. Wherever they find passengers or wherever they are being stopped by passengers, the autos would stop anywhere – even right in the middle of the road, WITHOUT ANY SENSE of scores of other vehicles coming behind. And when this happens, traffic congestion and confusion is created right in the blink of an eye.
Kids with fake driving licenses are one of many nuisances on the Imphal roads now. With no respect for anyone on the road, they would zoom their vehicles – both two and four wheelers from any direction, thereby causing traffic inconveniences.
SUGGESTIONS
Following are few of the points that I could come up with that will help reducing the traffic congestions, if they are implemented by the concerned departments sincerely:
i. Most important, whoever is the traffic managers, (he or she may be from police or VDF personnel or Home Guards personnel) should be totally trained on traffic regulations, they should be well versed with all the traffic rules and norms before they are set out on the roads. If the government’s budget allows, the traffic personnel could be sent for a short term course at Traffic Managements Institutes like ‘Institute of Road Traffic Education’ and ‘College of Traffic Management, New Delhi, or the higher officers of traffic police department could pursue the training and in return they impart the necessary training to other personnel.
And for those who are already inducted from homeguard, vdf etc as traffic police, they have to act like how they suppose to. They cannot continue to be acting like a cash collector (10 bucks from every passing by auto rickshaws), until and unless they stop these unethical practices no auto rickshaws driver or anyone on the road will respect them.
ii. If Transport Department along with Police and Traffic Police with schools, colleges authorities and parents could organize ‘traffic awareness programmes’ in schools and colleges will be great importance in traffic managements.
iii. Everyone understands, aftermath the unfortunately incidents of 4th January 2016 earth quake, women vendors of Ema Keithel are not allowed to do their daily business in their designated stalls or place. However, when they are provided with alternative place at temporary market shed, they should not be allowed to do their business on the busy roads of Thangal and Paona bazaar.
No one should be allowed to carry on their commercial activities on the footpaths or roadsides (in the case of Thangal bazaar, it’s not the roadsides, but the ‘whole road’ have been literally taken control by vegetable sellers and fabric merchandise dealers). (to be contd)

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