Developed By: iNFOTYKE
EASING TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN SHILLONG
The Shillong Times recently reported of a traffic snarl in the city which hit a 108 ambulance service carrying a seriously ill patient. There could be other such instances which might not have been reported. While it would be fortunate when with police assistance one can maneuver through the dense traffic jams during emergency situations of whatever sort but at times traffic is completely clogged for a long time much beyond the ability of the traffic personnel to promptly clear the jam; an indication that the traffic congestion is about to reach that stage where it can take away precious time and which could lead to unfortunate or tragic consequences.
The city traffic congestion is an accrual problem partially or insignificantly resolved for a number of years now and the Government’s holistic approach towards resolving the problem substantially is still vague and incomprehensible. If there are talks of flyovers or underground routes as likely long term solutions then this could be easier said than done given the existing complexities within the city. However , if properly explored and if every square inch of land available is utilized then it might be possible to widen roads at certain points soon. There is a hint that the government may develop the state Public Works Department land at Barik Point, if available, into a protest park area and for parking. While the idea of a protest park here is contentious with the Civil Hospital, the State library and the Government Secretariats nearby, the idea for a parking area to come along with road widening around the area could be a plausible one if the government gives serious thought to it. There was a suggestion that some portion of land from the huge plot housing the Governor’s official residence be made available for road width expansion around that area and for a parking lot and this could be another possibility. Likewise there could be extra land available in any other state or central government premises within the city for road widening or parking purposes if diligently explored. On the other hand if a resolution has been passed in the State Assembly to impress upon the Central Government to exempt Meghalaya from the Central Mining laws then likewise a resolution may perhaps be passed to impress upon the Central Government to hand over portions of Defence land within the city to the State government for road widening purposes or possibly for opening lateral roads. There could be a favorable response from the Centre on this since it would benefit the general public at large after all and provided the demand does not exceed more than for the purpose required .
There are a number of pedestrian pavements of sufficient width within the city which are not intensively used while some are intermittently used for purposes not originally intended. The spaces these pavements occupy may be available for road width expansion for maneuvering of vehicles within a short distance especially during emergency situations provided such expansion is not close to shops establishments or residences. Alternatively short length skywalks for pedestrians above these available spaces may be constructed. One also hopes that the land at Them Mawlong would be used for constructing a multi tier parking lot and not a commercial complex if the present residents are shifted from the location.
In the meantime , the government could initiate preventive or restrictive measures which in any case has to constantly go side by side with infrastructure built up to prevent recurrence of traffic congestion in no time. For a start the introduction of school buses may be made compulsory especially for big schools to alleviate the traffic congestion in the morning and afternoon hours .Some schools in the city have already introduced school buses; other schools should follow suit if the modalities relating to parking of these school buses ,the safety and security of the students etc are work out amongst the school authorities ,the parents/guardians and the local durbars with the government leading the initiative. If, as reported, the State Government intends to dispose off a number of Shillong Transport Public Service (SPTS) buses through a tender process then the Schools could perhaps be encouraged instead to take over the maintainable buses with a less demanding settlement where those schools which might want to add more buses to their fleet and those with the intention of operating school buses would be benefited .
When the carrying capacity of the main roads within the city may not be able to take more load soon then it is time perhaps for the Government to limit the number of new vehicles that can be registered for a defined period . This may disappoint prospective buyers , financiers and vehicles dealers but then it cannot be expected that the Government can please everybody all the time if the situation does not allow it . Many may not opt for public transports nor will walking be a feasible option when it is easy to own a private vehicle with the desire to often use it. The Singapore Government regulates the total number of vehicles to keep traffic congestion at manageable levels and to encourage use of public transport where besides effective controlling measures to reduce vehicle movement during peak traffic hours it also makes it a very expensive endeavor to own a vehicle through steep taxes while a substantial amount has also to be paid to the government to obtain a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) or the right to purchase a vehicle. While the Meghalaya government may not replicate the Singapore model here as of now but it perhaps could at least insist that new vehicle owners produce a Certificate of Availability of individual parking space certified by designated authorities with spot verification before the registration of the new vehicle is considered . This will deter those who intend to use a portion of public roads as day or overnight parking space from acquiring a vehicle and it would also reduce the number of vehicles in the city to a reasonable extent.
The suggestion that government could come up with plans to establish parking space or terminals at certain entry points for vehicles coming from different sources towards the city is worthy of consideration as it will reduce inflow of vehicles into the city while public transports can thereafter ferry passengers from these terminals towards and inside the city. Government may however strictly regulate the issuance of public transport permits to avoid overspills which could again lead to traffic congestion .
Desperate times call for desperate measures and pending quick suitable interventions it may be necessary for the government to apply the odd and even formula to regulate flow of vehicles within the city . Perhaps it is too pessimistic for one to think that such an eventuality might arise but the public may have to brace themselves for it unless the government takes bold or even courageous decisions to alleviate the traffic congestion soon and for our other leaders to support such decisions and subsequently be cooperative and equally for the citizens to participate without grudge. Finally and hopefully suggestions or ideas on possible solutions to ease the city traffic congestion which are publicly brought forward by the people of Shillong calls for public interactions and for the Government to take note of and possibly consider.