Friday, July 30, 2021

Traffic management

As life limps back to normal across Nagaland, lockdowns and restrictions waning almost completely now, there seems to be an air of complacency around. People are in a hurry to reclaim lost luxuries and are coming out in force to markets and for other non-essential travels as more curbs are relaxed in phase three of unlock Nagaland. Colleges will reopen from July 26 and higher secondary schools set to open from August 2. With traffic starting to ply on the roads we sense how horrible it would be when normality returns, and markets open to full strength. Even when a small percentage of normal activities are restored, and consequently we have very less traffic on roads, we face difficulties to navigate through gridlocks at certain places, particularly every Monday in Dimapur and Kohima. And don’t forget that the odd-even system of vehicular movement is still in force in these two main cities of the state. Take Dimapur for instance. There are places where even a steady trickle causes a traffic jam. The technical difference between slow-movement-of-traffic and a traffic jam notwithstanding, fact of the matter is that at all such places we get stuck. Time is wasted, and much agony caused. Sure traffic disorder is not new to Dimapur or Kohima. Roads are full of confusion in these two cities. In fact traffic in Dimapur city resembles the motion of gas molecules in a chamber – with too many vehicles like cars, 2 and 3-wheelers, pushcarts, street vendors and pedestrians, all finding a way to dodge each other for their destination. Haphazard and leisure movement of auto rickshaws and their stopping anywhere even in the middle of the road to drop or pick or wait for passengers, blocks traffic flow. Adding to the chaos are the auto rickshaws and their load carrier versions that zoom in and out of the traffic, scaring pedestrians and other motorists. Indeed the explosive growth of vehicles is quickly becoming a serious problem for us. Very often traffic gridlocks significantly contribute to air and noise pollution in the city. The loss of time and the mental agony as well as physical stress is stealing our productivity. Traffic regulating authorities cannot be absolved of their responsibilities but blaming them entirely will be unfair. Unruly drivers, both public and private, arrogant pedestrians, and compromising authorities have created a situation of a free-for-all. Accidents, particularly of two-wheelers, have become a common affair on our roads. Imagine what is going to happen when schools re-open, when employees in government and private offices resume their work in person, when all the markets are open, when people from outside visit the state, when picnics, outings and hang outs are back. If our roads cannot manage a reduced flow of vehicles, how can we expect a normal movement up ahead? What will happen to us when we are stuck in a long traffic jam at peak hour – just imagine. The point is that right now we have time at our hands. Before the flood of vehicles spills over onto our roads when all COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, we must do some thinking on how to manage it. It is not always about enhancing the infrastructure. Each time we cannot ask for widening existing roads and laying new roads. But an efficient management of the existing infrastructure can at time do wonders. In fact it can be said that major delays occur on our roads with no apparent cause. Though we say that jams occur due to the sheer volume of traffic, this clearly plays a part but the main issue is around the smoothness of traffic flow. Hence the need for traffic authorities to find an efficient way of managing and handling traffic on our roads. Just an application of mind, and we could avoid unpleasant and troublesome situations that were a matter of routine. Further, if traffic police is placed on all such points where traffic jams are a daily affair and they are fully equipped to regulate traffic, we can have hassle free movement. This is the time to work out the details of an action plan to end traffic jams in our cities and towns.