Shillong traffic snarls an urban nightmare

SHILLONG, June 25: Traffic snarls just like Smit Boss and kwai will steadily become synonymous to the city Shillong, which is gradually seeing a spike in traffic jams.
But the traffic police, against all odds, are on this taxing job to make the citizens’ lives easier while carrying hopes that perhaps one day things will be easier with new policies and initiatives of the government.
A wiggly unending line, loud impatient honking, angry faces and a whistle keeping the line moving is a common sight in the city, and with more vehicles hitting the roads, the traffic problem in Shillong is an urban nightmare.
With a strength of 430 which includes 340 traffic police personnel and 90 home guards, the force is taking on the entire city working in two shifts with an added emergency shift.
Trying to get an insight into the challenges and the probable solution, The Shillong Times reached out to the Superintendent of Police (Traffic) of East Khasi Hills, Shailendra Bamaniya, who listed out the dynamics of managing the traffic flow in the city.
“First of all it is the parking issue. At many places, government department, educational institution or medical they do not have proper parking facilities which is coupled with not having many embarking and disembarking points which adds up to the congestion,” said Bamaniya.
According to him, lack of pedestrians’ infrastructure in places like Khyndai Lad, MES junction, District Council area, Don Bosco and Anjali point, leads to people crossing the streets haphazardly which in turn affects the traffic flow.
Besides, hawkers on the main road in select places, big vehicles like the Shillong Public Transport Services (SPTS) buses breaking down, unavailability of school buses, are some of the vexing issues, he recalled.
According to the SP (Traffic), the most challenging day of the week is Monday, particularly the time between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, as a lot of vehicles hit the streets even from the rural areas, this is followed by Saturdays and Sundays at Khyndai Lad area apart from the daily school and office timings in different areas.
Talking about the manpower, he said, “Currently, we have 430 people including 90 home guards. We deploy them in two main shifts covering almost all points but some points are still unmanned; we send flying squad from time to time. We need more people.”
The SP (Traffic) revealed that they have requested for an additional 100 personnel, more towing vehicles and smart equipment in view of the frequent breaking down of vehicles and with the town slowly expanding.
Bamaniya said that all of this including CCTVs are in the pipeline.
“They are hardworking constables and home guard volunteers, they come in the morning shift (8 am till 2 pm). They are not able to eat and drink when their shift is over. As and when they receive (inputs about) traffic congestion, they go and clear,” he said, adding that many of them have worked for years and are aware about the problems.
“I appreciate them; be it rain, VIP duties, ambulance, fire services, they are alert all the time,” a grateful Bamaniya added.
The SP said that the weather also adds to the chaos as he explained that when it rains, most of the people use four-wheelers be it private vehicles or taxis, which slows down traffic flow and creates congestion.
On complaints against traffic personnel, the SP (Traffic) said his men are highly dedicated. Handling Shillong traffic is not an easy task, if left unattended for a minute, there will be chaos, he explained.
Discussing measures to decongest the vehicle-packed city roads, Bamaniya said that the Planning department is working on a strategy to reduce traffic congestion and various surveys have been conducted in this connection to design measures for minimum traffic snarls.
The official admitted that offices being moved to New Shillong Township will contribute to decongestion of roads.
He further told the ST that they are constantly in touch with various Dorbar Shnong to ensure that traffic rules within a locality is decided for the best. As and when any request comes from them, a joint inspection is done and with their suggestions signage is put up and one way or no entry regulations are also decided.
“In Shillong, I should say there are around 43 no parking zones and 24 one ways. It may be increased and it is also done with local Dorbars and public,” he added.
Stating that the support of the public is much needed and appreciated, he recalled how it is through this support, especially during festivities, that the traffic police are able to manage the crowds well.
In his appeal to the citizens, the SP (Traffic) has requested the public to refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol or any other substance, rash and negligent driving, besides advising road users to keep all documents up to date to avoid penalty, and urging them to adhere to basic traffic rules with regard to seat belts, helmets, etc.

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