Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Failure of traffic governance


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SHILLONG must be the city with the highest number of vehicles in the smallest road width that has remained static since it started as a capital town of the North East. What is galling for the common person is to see government and private vehicles converging into the areas surrounding the elite schools of the city at peak school hours. These elite missionary run schools have remained adamant about not using school buses although this is the norm for transporting school students in all other states. That the Government has failed to rein in these belligerent schools speaks a lot about poor governance. Here is a State where everyone dictates terms to the Government and gets away with it!
Commuting during school hours is a painful exercise. It is the ordinary citizen that suffers. Pedestrians have a difficult time as the roads are choc-a-bloc and drivers do not allow right of way to them. The narrow footpaths are not of much help as people have to walk in single file. The Shillong Traffic Police have on more than one occasion admitted that they cannot do much because the volume of traffic has risen exponentially. The only mode adopted by the Traffic Police is to put up ‘No Parking’ signs and clamp the tyres of those who violate the rule.  The Traffic Police has in recent times earned large sums of money by imposing fines on violators. But this is a very short-term tactic. A long term vision and strategy is missing. No one seems interested in thinking through the problem until something drastic such as a complete traffic hold up for several hours happens in the middle of the city.
The bureaucracy gets paid to think through problems and provide solutions. But even without thinking too much some amount of traffic can be reduced if Government insists that schools use school buses to drop and pick up their students. This is the minimum that can be done and thousands of vehicles will be off the roads. There is also the question of pollution which the State Pollution Control Board has never taken seriously. It is the onus of the SPCB to tell the citizens how much of suspended particulate matter they are breathing in on a daily basis in Shillong city. It’s time citizens raise their voices and fight for their right to a pollution-free environment and lesser clogged roads. How the Government does it is its problem. Or would the Government only move if another Court Order is waved in its face?


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