SHILLONG: Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Shillong’s Centre for Development of Northeastern Region (CeDNER) organised a brainstorming session on the “Burgeoning traffic congestion in Shillong”.
The session opened with the Superintendent of Police, East Khasi Hills, Davis Nestell R Marak presenting information on the current situation of traffic circulation in Shillong. Marak highlighted issues such as increase in the number of vehicles in Shillong over the past few years (especially due to easy availability of loans) and lack of planned parking spaces within the city.
Shortage of traffic personnel required to manage traffic was also discussed. The issues rotating around schools and universities were likewise raised. Perspectives ranging from lack of parking spots accessible for schools and universities, and furthermore insufficient space for people on foot to stroll on/cross the street, to engagement of peddling on the strolling space accessible were mooted and deliberated.
Regarding public transport, it was pointed out that all Shillong Public Transport Service (SPTS) buses take the common route which adds to the congestion problem.
The police department expressed the need for a traffic engineer or consultant to come up with alternative solutions.
The session even saw the participation from the local cab drivers who expressed their concerns as well.
Concerns were raised on the easy availability of permits and increase in the number of taxi stands owing to the growth in tourist footfall.
The police department suggested some short-term and long-term solutions for the mentioned issues.
The short-term measures included better street parking management, pavement markings, traffic signage, increase in the number of traffic marshals, renovation of pedestrian footpaths, car pooling, rationalization of taxi stands and regulation of taxi permits.
The long-term solutions discussed were improvement of intersections through circular roads so that no vehicle stops, provision of school and college buses, construction of bus and taxi bays, hiring traffic consultants, construction of public walking ramps and issue of E-challan which can be developed by NIC.
It was prescribed that there must be exhaustive confirmation of the purchasers before they procure vehicles and to also have a guarantee from the purchasers that they have enough parking spots.
Heavy fines should be levied for illegal parking so that citizens are more cautious about it. To make things more manageable, introduction of the concept of community parking space was mooted.
Inspired by the policy implemented in London, the idea of ‘congestion pricing’ was also introduced wherein a person can be charged extra for driving or parking during peak hours to reduce the number of active vehicles on the road.
To settle the licensing issue, it was suggested to introduce a booklet with all the rules and regulations that a candidate has to go through apart from basic driving test in order to get the driving license.
People should also be encouraged to prefer two-wheelers and public transport over private four-wheeled vehicles, it was suggested.
Once all the suggestions and recommendations were made, discussions were held on the policy implementation process and the authority to implement the ideas.
With respect to authority, it was debated as to who will spearhead the plan consisting of these new initiatives. After considerable contention, it was suggested that the department of transport along with the urban department can drive these proposed measures.
“Moreover, the entire implementation cannot be a success with the help of authorities alone but needs thorough cooperation from public”, one of the stakeholders pointed out.
All the stakeholders brought their perspectives and ideas to the table which proved to be a huge starting step to address this issue of traffic congestion in Shillong.
The session was attended by key stakeholders including principals and representatives from colleges and educational institutions, retired officials, concerned citizens, representatives of commercial vehicle drivers, media fraternity, and the police department of Meghalaya among others.