From our Special Correspondent
IMPHAL, June 23: Mercifully from Saturday morning the authorities have condescended to allow all vehicles to pass through the Paona and Thangal markets. It is anybody’s guess when the capricious befuddled officials will impose another traffic rule. Some months ago a woman DSP in charge of traffic had banned entry of all vehicles including two wheelers in these two main markets. Her explanation was that such vehicles were causing traffic jams. The established government remained as a mute spectator when the DSP had imposed the regulation in this manner. But the spill over traffic had caused traffic congestions in the nearby roads and lanes. Besides all the shops and kiosks in these markets could not sell a single thing. A person cannot pay the parking fee, walk a long distance to buy a small article which is available in any of the shops in the periphery. It was not known what the government gained by depriving the businessmen of their works and profits. Since there is no people in the streets both the markets wore a deserted look. When there were scathing write ups in the local press the policy was staunchly supported and the government as a whole did not interfere. It was haughtily explained that it was done on an experimental basis. The people are not guinea pigs and at this age there is no scope for experiments in traffic regulations. The people had nobody to turn to despite the fact that they are suffering a lot.
It is clear that the businessmen had approached the Ministers to review the childish traffic policy. As a result, a decision was taken in the last cabinet meeting to scrap it. In normal circumstances it should have been taken by the government. But there was inordinate delay in implementing the decision. It was only after 4 PM that vehicles are allowed inside these markets. In Manipur there is nightfall by 5 PM and in view of the reprehensible law and order sensible persons do not venture out after dark. Though the parking fees inside the markets had been doubled the new policy gives a sigh of relief. The government has been spending a fortune in installing traffic signals here and there. However, these had to be decommissioned within a short time. The signals are located in close proximity. As a result there is traffic jam in all sides whenever there is red signal in a particular crossing. Obviously the government does not have any official with any practical idea on traffic and has not engaged anybody from other States. There are more than enough number of traffic constables. But only a few of them are seen regulating the traffic in the busy crossings. The rest are seen here and there pouncing on the drivers of vans, autorickshaw and truck drivers to extort something. In fact these constables have become terror incarnate to the drivers. Recently a newspaper published a front page picture showing a truck dashing against stone divider. The report said that the driver who had greased the palm of a constable was allowed to enter the market violating the one way traffic. There was not even a perfunctory clarification from the authority.
Some of the constables are seen deflating the tyres of the vehicles which are parked at wrong places. They are rather helping the private businessmen who are manning the parking lots. Any erring driver would be flagged down for deflating the tyres or whittling away some parts of the taxi. Once something is passed to the constables the parts are returned. The State exchequer is not benefitted in this round the clock transactions. Dozens of car drivers had been harassed since their tyres were deflated. Everyday the drivers anticipate new traffic regulations since the established government has been reduced to a world class joke in this manner.