The main culprit behind traffic congestion in Imphal is roadside parking. In most cities across the country and around the world, it has been made mandatory for every commercial establishment to create their own parking spaces. Roadside parking has been banned almost everywhere, in an effort to decongest the roads and facilitate free flow of traffic. We are of the opinion that, roadside parking should be banned not only in the commercial zones, but in residential areas also. In many parts of Imphal, one will find vehicles parked in the main roads and leikai roads.
In some leikais, the roads are so narrow that it is difficult for two four wheeler vehicles coming from opposing sides to maneuver. Yet, many vehicle owners park their vehicles on the leikai roads unmindful of the difficulties it is causing to others. Perhaps, the time has come for the government and municipal authorities to enact a law to prohibit vehicle parking on all roads and to make it mandatory for every vehicle owner to have their own parking spaces for their vehicles in their Ingkhols or rent commercial garages.
Or for that matter, transport authorities could make it mandatory for anyone who buys a four wheeler to have a parking space of their own at the time of registration. This is a suggestion, but we need to be very stringent in this regard. The local clubs also should make it a point to enforce the no parking policy as residents do not always want to antagonise neighbours from confronting them in the matter of roadside parking.
We have to understand that there are two parking modes. One is short duration parking for a few minutes to avail some services and buy something. The other is idle parking, which should be completely banned. Shop owners, salespersons and people living on both sides of the road are the main culprits for idle parking.
It is happening in almost all commercial areas in Imphal city. Instead of availing their own parking spaces, these commercial establishments encroach upon the footpath also for display of their wares and the adjacent public road for parking of their staff vehicles and of the shoppers. Shop owners and salesmen besides shoppers still continue to park their vehicles along the main market stretch in Imphal city despite government restrictions.
The government order had imposed restrictions on parking along the market stretch for not more than five minutes for the convenience of commuters and pedestrians. The said order had mentioned that owners of shops and residents along the Paona Bazar should park their vehicles behind Johnstone Higher Secondary School, while those in Thangal Bazaar should park their vehicles in the public parking space built above Naga Nullah.
Following the government order, Imphal West district police along with the traffic police wing were on strict vigil in the early days. Now, it is free for all as there is no one on duty to enforce the restrictions. Along the stretch, they do not have to pay the parking fees and they can park the vehicles for as long as they desire, as there is no one to clock the timing of their parking.
It seems like the Bazar lobby has won once again while the government order remains lost in translation. Everyone knows that the Bazar lobby is very powerful and they hold at least a sizable chunk of the finances behind every election.