Monday, September 27, 2021

Road mess

Kohima is a great place to visit and live, especially in the summer (despite the non-stop rains). But this beauty is mostly overshadowed by its peculiar state of affairs. We have many problems, perhaps more than any other city/town does. And one of them is traffic. In fact Kohima city roads just aren’t generally equipped to deal with problems. Sometimes you get literally nowhere. Mostly during peak times, one spends more than an hour sometimes trying to get out of the mess. There just aren’t any alternate routes or viable methods of transport. You either sit or walk, or give up. We seem to have lapsed into an uncharacteristic fatalism as far as improvement in traffic system goes. It is as if conditions on our city roads are a natural disaster that we must simply endure. Here it hardly needs repetition that the density of motor vehicles on the pitted, narrow and congested city roads have been increasing at an alarming rate. Areas up till now considered calm are now constantly dashed and rattled by noise, dust, heat and smoke of a baffling variety of vehicles. The situation is compounded by the lack of civic sense and road culture amongst the populace. Every nouveau riche wants to assert his right to hold his own on the road to the exclusion of other road users. So it is no surprise that there have been reports of road rage incidents. Road accidents are also common. One of the major fallout of the tremendous increase in the number of vehicles is the problem of parking. There is literally no parking space in the city, and there is not enough space for parking on the roadside to take the load of the ever-increasing new arrivals of vehicles. It is a fact that Kohima had not been conceived, planned and built to take this quantity and quality of traffic. And unless well-considered and effective measures are taken on a war footing, traffic jams and accidents will continue to bring this city to a halt. So it brings us to a question of who is responsible and how to get out of this mess? As far as accounting for responsibility is concerned, everyone including the Government, the public, traffic cops have to take the blame. So far in their desperation they have been playing this blame game and the situation has continued to drift. Lack of long term planning on part of the Government to foresee the traffic accumulation over a period of time and take certain drastic measures, along with poor service conditions has rendered its action in the whole issue very questionable. At the same time, absence of civic sense among the populace is playing its own role in adding up to the mess. Also given the quality and quantity of traffic, lack of thorough training in traffic control is pushing the situation to a disaster. We have to understand that a traffic problem is not only a policing problem. The governments along with its planners, police and the civic body have to sit together and come up with a viable solution which will get rid of this mess not only now but in future as well. A lot of short and long term measures have to be envisaged at the earliest. Amongst the short term measures that should contribute to relieving the congestion, some are attention to the immediate repairs of the roads, construction of dividers, provision of adequate street/road lighting, removal of encroachments, erection of automatic signals and signboards indicating routes for different destinations, development and construction of parking lots, closing certain routes for one way traffic, refusal of building permission for construction of new shopping malls or schools in congested areas, etc. Long-term measures, amongst others should include widening of the roads, construction of underground and over ground parking lots in all markets and shopping centers, construction of flyovers and subways, construction of bypasses for heavy vehicles earmarking separate routes for city bus service and provision of pedestrian pathways. For these measures to turn into actions, requires, besides effective planning, financial soundness. Till the State achieves sufficiency in these areas, organized and well-developed traffic will continue to be a dream for the masses.