The day Imphal stood still
IFP Editorial: Whatever measures are being taken up or training given, those in charge of traffic needs to shed the security mind-set first and become imaginative.
Updated on 4 Jan 2022, 9:09 pm
Imphal, Manipur (PHOTO: IFP)
On Tuesday, Imphal stood still during the visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and as the stretch of road leading from BT International Airport to Palace Compound was blockaded, all the peripheral roads were clogged with traffic jams. This has been happening for quite some time with the high profile visit of BJP bigwigs in the run-up to the early 2022 assembly elections. Now, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is due to visit Imphal on Thursday again.
Manipur police have always a strange way of regulating traffic in Imphal city, more so during VVIP visits and their movement. Entire stretches of major roads in the city are completely blocked during the visits of Union ministers, thereby causing extreme inconveniences to the general public. Scores of BJP ministers have started coming down to Imphal and it will go on till the elections. These visits do always throw traffic out of gear in Imphal. On such days, the city was clogged with traffic congestion as ordinary vehicles were diverted from the routes the VVIP was travelling.
The general public was made to suffer on the streets. But, such unimaginative management of traffic is not a recent phenomenon or of the BJP regime. This has also happened during the Congress rule and spells of President’s Rule. In the name of security considerations, such abuse of public space and roads has been happening, since long and traffic management or regulation is yet to come out of the security cocoon which negates all other considerations.
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. 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. 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.
Coming back to the issue of easing traffic congestion, we now have a full-time SP (Traffic) tasked with the job of ensuring smooth flow of traffic on the roads. But, the security mindset is still out there dictating terms as it is under the Police Department. Whatever measures are being taken up or training given, those in charge of traffic needs to shed the security mind-set first and become imaginative.
As Imphal is at the threshold of becoming a Smart City, one needs to be imaginative and innovative even in terms of managing traffic. And it has to be a multi-departmental initiative and not of the police alone. The phenomenal increase in the number of vehicles in recent times has also to be considered. Once again, we would like to flag the issue of making the entire stretches of Paona Bazar and Thangal Bazar pedestrian-only streets. Pedestrian-only streets prioritise people and are typically most appropriate in corridors with commercial activity on both edges of the street. The pedestrian volume is high in these streets and so vehicular traffic should be restricted.