Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Shillong’s Centre for Development of Northeastern Region (CeDNER) along with organised a follow-up session for the brainstorming session held in October 2018 to discuss plans proposed and draft a blueprint to ease the traffic congestion currently hindering transportation in the city. The session is an initiation by Good World Foundation.
The session commenced with discussing the previous set of deliberations and difficulties in implementation. The session was chaired by Mr. W. R. Marbaniang, Retired IPS Officer, who ideated that the most important aspect of easing traffic congestion is the discipline among drivers. Therefore, it is necessary to have a driving handbook which instructs all drivers about Dos and Don’ts that must be followed. Moreover, Driving Schools should be set up to train people before they obtain a license.
One of the key aspects discussed was the coordination required between Police, Government Officials and Banks to monitor the traffic situation and ensure that the number of vehicles on the road is restricted while long-term measures are being charted out as there is currently a discrepancy between the number of taxis that are plying on the road and the number of taxi licenses issued. One of the proposed measures, as mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act, is that a purchaser must have a parking space before purchasing a car as that would reduce illegal parking significantly.
Discussing the problem of having a high number of taxis, it was observed that the taxis currently function as stage carriages, i.e. making stops like a bus even though the law provides for contract carriage. Moreover, taxi fares should be revised and regulated as the current fare leads people to take cabs even for small distances, and instead walking should be promoted using well paved pathways.
More importantly, it was discussed that proactiveness towards the issue should be shown by all stakeholders including adding parking space to existing government buildings from the government, strict enforcement by police and disciplined behavior by the citizens. Specific Pick and Drop points should be made available for schools as it will reduce congestion on the road during peak school hours.
The Public Works Department intends to have expert suggestions by consultants on how roads can be transformed to accommodate more vehicles and possibility of the bypass ring road to ensure that passing traffic does not need to go through Shillong.
One of the ideas proposed included having a purchase permit issued to consumers intending to purchase cars, to ensure they have proper parking space, license, and other conditions before they go and purchase a car. Moreover, taxis should be provided with a sticker if they have adequate documentation and taxis and vehicles not following rules should be impounded instead of charging a minor fine.
The Traffic Police highlighted how there is a need for more manpower to ensure enforcement. To ease this manpower burden, they have set up CCTVs in 30 locations and 30 more are to be set-up in the next phase. Using these CCTVs and advanced technology, the police can automatically identify owners of law violating vehicles and send E-challans. Moreover, bottlenecks will be identified, and public cooperation will be sought. One of the stakeholders pointed out, “Currently a lot of regulation is in place but what we need is a defined traffic policy and discipline and cooperation from all stakeholders as a congestion-free Shillong is in the interest of all.”
Lastly, the importance of discipline was discussed by everyone and how traffic discipline must be included in education and values from childhood to ensure that traffic congestion does not become a recurring problem. The meeting encompassed improvement over already ideated suggestions and incorporated new suggestions such as the construction of foot over bridges, and making the streets pedestrian friendly. The committee will be drafting the blueprint and submitting it to the government for early implementation, making a demarcation between short-term plans which can provide immediate results and long-term infrastructural and cultural ideas which will provide greater benefit but will need time for implementation.