By Lamphrang Nongspung
SHILLONG: Traffic jams are no longer funny. Every school day, between 8 am and 9 am the road between Fire Brigade Point up to Dhankheti is choc-a-bloc with traffic.
Yet the ‘elite schools’ located in this area refuse to even think about the huge public inconvenience they create, say concerned citizens who get caught in this daily jam.
Students of St. Edmund’s School and Loreto Convent are dropped in private cars or government vehicles.
If there are even 1000 students in each of these schools there would be 2000 vehicles out clogging this stretch of road on any given day.
The State Government’s proposal for issue of buses to the schools to ease the traffic congestion has not received any positive response from any of the schools in the city.
Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, within whose constituency most of the elite schools are located, says her Department held several rounds of talks with the principals of these schools last year but there were too many demands from them.
“The principals had issues about costs, attendants, and about boys and girls boarding the same buses and several other excuses,” Ampareen told this scribe, adding that only St. Mary’s and St. Anthony’s attended while Loreto Convent and St. Edmund’s did not even care to attend the meetings.
The district administration, too, had taken steps of calling the schools to discuss the need for buses to resolve the problem of traffic congestion during school hours.
“We had held a meeting last year with the authorities of various school on how to resolve this problem,” East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner Sanjay Goyal said.
Goyal informed that he had taken the Urban Affairs department on board since they has agreed to reserve few SPTS buses to be used as schools buses.
“During the meeting, many of the schools were very excited with this proposal. But later I learnt that none of the schools responded to the offer of the Government,” he added.
“In every other state, all schools are compulsorily told to use school buses to prevent the streets from clogging but in Shillong the roads look like they have an exhibition of cars models. Even the children compete with each other about which model their parents own,” complained a parent who says that Shillong is very anti-pedestrian with no rights for them at all.
Meanwhile, traffic cops have been trying their best to regulate traffic although they too have reached an exasperation point.
No less a person than the former Governor, RS Mooshahary, had recently commented in his farewell speech that Shillong will have to devise ways of reducing vehicles on the road by way of car pooling or the use of school buses.
People who travel daily on the Fire Brigade-Dhankheti route during peak school hours feel that it is high time the elite schools stepped out of their ‘comfort zones’ to resolve the single-most pressing problem that their wards are creating for the rest of society.
“There are several schools in the city that are using school buses so why should elite schools be exempted,” the people ask, adding that it is time for the Government to come down heavily on those schools that contribute the maximum to traffic congestion.