Monday, April 15, 2024

Traffic mess

Kohima is a great place to live. But this beauty is mostly overshadowed by its peculiar state of affairs. We have many problems, perhaps more than any other city does. One of them being traffic. Kohima has seen an immense increase in the movement of vehicular traffic for the last few years due to a fast changing living standard. Roads presently within the city feel mostly choked and suffocated due to the fact that no adequate traffic carrying capacity is associated with their present state of geometry. The volume of traffic passing through the streets cannot be controlled manually only but needs to be streamlined to avoid traffic mess at certain important intersections and junctions. So much of time is wasted on the roads. Kohima city roads just aren’t generally equipped to deal with problems. Sometimes you get literally nowhere. Mostly during peak times, one spends around 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, walk or give up. It hardly needs replication 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 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. Instances of road rage are, therefore, common. Road accidents are regular. One of the major fallout of the tremendous increase in the number of vehicles is the problem of parking. There are no parking lots and the available parking spaces (on roadsides) are too small and too undeveloped to be able to take the ever-increasing pressure of new arrivals on the roads. In fact our state capital had not been conceived, planned and built to take this quantity and quality of traffic. 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. This also 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 government along with its planners, police and the civic bodies has to sit together and come up with a viable solution which will get us 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 immediate repairs of roads, construction of dividers, removal of encroachments and hoardings, erection of automatic signals and signboards indicating routes for different destinations, closing certain routes to two way traffic, refusal of building permission for construction of new buildings in the congested areas, etc. Long-term measures, amongst others, should include widening of the roads, construction of underground and over ground parking lots at all markets and shopping centers, construction of flyovers and subways, construction of bypasses for heavy vehicles 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.