Traffic congestion and road accidental woes in the streets of Imphal

Dr Rajkumar Giridhari Singh *

 Panic buying leads to traffic snarls, price hike on July 23 2020
Panic buying leads to traffic snarls, price hike on July 23 2020 :: Pix - TSE

As I come out of my home (Sagolband Bijoy Govinda) to buy a school book for my daughter from a bookstore in Paona Bazaar, some ofthe options with me are (a) to have a one and half km. walk by foot; (b) pay Rs. 20 get a share seat in an autorickshaw; (c) go by any vehicle of our possessions. No matter which option I chose, I have to pass through the Salam Leikai then Wahengabam Leikai on NH 37. Once I reached Salam Leikai area, there was enough space for any vehicles to move smoothly .

No doubt the road has widen quite a bit but vehicle parking by whole lot of vehicles including auto rickshaws, tats magic, tats wingers, this sumos (commercial passenger line vehicles which runs in Tiddim Road such as Nambol, Bishnupur, Ohtani, Moirang, CCPur, etc.) have occupied more than half the width of the road. It wonders why parking spaces for these vehicles are allowed to park in this congested area.

To get space on the road and move forward most of the commuters would be honking even fully knowing that the vehicle in front does not have the space to give way to the vehicle coming behind. It needs no mention ifI chose the option of walking by foot since there is no footpath on the road side. Well, this story is a familiar common sight and experience my fellow residents of Imphal are witnessing every single day.

It is important to trace out the reasons for the problem of traffic congestion in order to draw up a sensible and suitable policy. Imphal city the capital of Manipur is a centre of administration attracts people from all walks of life for their activities and earning a living. Most of the important centres/offices are located in the heart of the city. With the volume of traffic, we have today in the streets of Imphal it is alarmingly problematic.

As on February 3, 2021, the number of vehicles registered with the transport department of Manipur is 4,53,732. Of these, 75 percent are plying in the valley area, mostly in Imphal. The rise in the number of vehicles every single day in Manipur on one hand and unsystematic and lack of appropriate planning from the authority has led to traffic congestion in Imphal city.

The inadequate planning and absence of effective traffic management has caused many mishaps of frequent road accidents and fatality. Among many, lack of available parking space is one of the main reasons for traffic congestion in Imphal city. Lack of traffic sense among the public is rampant. The tendency developed among some high-ranking officers and the political class that they don't need to conform to road norms and laws are meant for ordinary public only is another area that needs to be addressed.

Stopping their vehicles right in the middle of the road, sometimes obstructing regular flow of traffic may be mentioned. High-rise buildings, shopping malls, hotels, clinics, restaurants, hospitals and institutions in the city don't have parking bays. The visitors to these places have no choice but park their vehicles bang in front of the buildings hindering the movement of vehicles on road.

For want of a safe place, vehicles and car owners park their vehicles on road .eating hurdles for traffic. Lack of public transport systems in the state have the worst consequences in traffic management. It leads to an increase in the number of private vehicles and thereby more traffic congestion. There are deplorable existing road conditions with potholes, rough and uneven stretches in the city.

The neglect of roads is pathetic as it brings detrimental consequences. The incomplete projects and developmental works managed and executed by different un-coordinated multiple agencies is another reason adding salt to the wound of traffic congestion and road accidents. The worst condition of these roads is leading to road accidents and fatalities. The number of injuries and deaths due to road accidents reported in the state is high.

Lack of traffic sense among the people of the state is another factor that is worrisome. Driving is not just about putting a vehicle into motion by accelerating or applying brakes when needed. It requires readiness, willingness and practice to follow traffic rules and regulations. We have been witnessing unnecessary honking, talking in mobile while driving, lane jumping, lack of sense of giving space to others, parking anywhere where one likes, over speeding, driving two wheelers without helmet, driving car without belt put on, driving after taking drugs or alcohol.

There are times in which vehicles suddenly turn on the wrong sides thereby blocking the free flow vehicle. All these have made the streets of Imphal town a nightmare for daily commuters. Road accidents in the state are not declining. This is despite the fact that various policies initiated by the authority of the state on road safety. Because of road accidents numerous lives have been lost and several others got injured.

Among which there are lifelong disabilities. It brings not only physical injury but mental agony to many. It affects the economic situation of the family, community and the state. Then arrow road coupled with alarming vehicle explosion is opined as the most important reason for road accidents in Manipur. Deplorable road conditions, over speeding, potholes, inadequate lighting, improper and lack of manning of traffic personnel, lack of traffic sense are some of the other reasons for road accidents.

Overcoming the traffic congestion and avoiding road accidents is an immediate necessity. It requires a strong hand from the Government authority and good traffic sense and behaviour of the people. In the recent past there have been several initiatives taken up by the Government of Manipur to facilitate the public and get some relief from traffic jams. The changes in the school timing and the office timing are some of the encouraging policies the authority has brought changes for.

Installing the traffic light system is also a welcoming step, however, given the nature and condition of the city besides the traffic light system there is still a need to keep manning the traffic intersections by the traffic personnel. In some traffic intersections the frequency of commuters is irregular and handling simply by computer timing may unnecessarily delay the commuters.

Consideration may be given to activating the public transport system which is a better and sensible alternative to the people; shifting to using public transport will reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Limiting the area of operation of auto rickshaws to the outskirts of the city preventing them from entering the heart of the city would bring a rejoice to the city dwellers and commuters.

Chalking out and allocating a proper and adequate parking space of vehicles is an utmost necessity. Manning the traffic personnel in intersections of the city beyond Khwairamband bazaar and VIP area; Lighting the streets of Imphal; keeping pedestrian path in each and every road of the city; Compulsory wearing of helmet and seat belts; etc. are some of the other basic measures that may augment to reduce the amount of traffic congestion on the road and reducing the road mishaps.

Training programmes for new drivers should be thorough, highly supervised and regulated. Giving a driving license only after proper screening of the driver's ability to understand the traffic signs, signals, lights and traffic safety rules is of paramount importance. The poor traffic management on the part of the state authority is observed as another reason for traffic congestion in the city.

It is reported that there are hardly a handful of traffic police personnel with adequate training. Inadequate traffic management equipment and facilities, casually handling of road traffic issues; uncommitted traffic personnel, laxity in issuing driving license properly, implementation of traffic rules on adhoc basis, corruption etc. are some of the many loopholes on the part of the authority and cause for traffic congestions and road mishaps.

Traffic enforcement in the city needs a fresh look. Traffic enforcement which refers to supervisions of road user's compliance with the traffic legislation, and punishment for non-compliance should be implemented by the traffic police sincerely. Taking the responsibility of traffic control and traffic engineering without formal knowledge of the subject is dangerous.

Hence it is required to design training and workshops to upslcill the traffic police personnel of the knowledge and tools needed to perform their duties effectively. Regular orientation and training of the traffic personnel is a must Improvement in traffic law enforcement can lead to rapid reductions in road accidental deaths and injuries. Strictly implementing existing traffic rules can have a positive impact.

Compulsory and strict application of wearing a helmet while driving two-wheelers would reduce head injury from road accidents considerably. Imphal is not a very big city but it is growing at a faster pace now. We need to think and look for measures to tackle the unwanted traffic congestion by using regulations and innovative traffic engineering systems. place it may be almost impossible to completely eliminate traffic congestion from our lives.

But we can definitely take some steps to reduce the impact and avoid road accidents. If required, consultation with traffic management systems adopted in more traffic disciplined towns like Aizawl or Shillong and more equipped cities lfice Delhi may be considered.

* Dr Rajkumar Giridhari Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Management, Mizoram University
and can be reached at ricgiridhari(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on August 20 2022 .

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