Meghalaya | Shillong Traffic becomes topic of debate in Assembly, yet again!
TNT News | Shillong, Sep 26, 2018:
As the choked city of Shillong continues to experience "horrible" traffic nightmares with each passing day, the issue never cease to become a "hot" topic of discussion, be it in a closed group, a public gathering or in the Legislative Assembly.
Like in the previous session, city traffic menace was yet again raised in the floor of the House on the fourth day of the 10th Meghalaya Legislative Assembly today.
Reacting to demands for immediate solution to the problem, Meghalaya Home Minister, James K Sangma today said "This problem is growing over the years. There is no 'quick-fix' solution to this problem. It requires a sustained effort over the years."
"Traffic is affecting the lives of all the citizens of the state and we all know that traffic congestion is an offshoot of urbanization which is evident from the increase in the rate of population in the state," said James Sangma while replying to a Call Attention motion moved by Mawsynram MLA and Congress legislator, HM Shangpliang.
While comparing the population of Shillong in 1872 which was only 1368 to present time, where it has increased to more than 3 lakh, James said it is very clear that with improved economic condition amongst the citizens and the flooding of vehicles from neighbouring states, the problem will arise.
Stating that traffic management is a big challenge, the Home (Police) minister informed that on peak days, the number of vehicles plying the city streets is 1,70, 870 and on an average day, it is approximately 93, 900.
He informed the House that as per the details available with the office of the District Transport Officer (DTO), East Khasi Hills, during the last 3 years the number of the registered vehicles has increased manifold.
In 2016, the total number of registered vehicles in the district is 1,31,930; in 2017, it was 1,46, 297 and as of March 2018, the total is 1,58,951.
The Home Minister also spelled out some of the reasons contributing to this problem — narrow roads, footpaths clogged due to street vendors, absence of footpaths, increase in the number of vehicles, lack of parking lots, school buses, lack of over-bridges, shared taxi system, huge density of the outstation vehicles, multiplication of township around the city and the presence of educational institutions in busy areas of the city.
"We have taken several measures to control traffic through the creation of several traffic branches within Shillong," he said adding that there are 7 traffic branches with a total strength of 299 personnel.
Admitting that there is a shortage of man power in the department, James said the problem prompted them to seek the help of Homeguard personnel.
He informed that for a long term solution, "we require a concerted effort of all line departments because we need a multi-pronged approach to deal with this problem. Certain amount of patience is required to achieve our long term goals."
Meanwhile, naming some of the measures taken by the department to ease traffic congestion in the city, James said the department has pushed 22 flying squad into action, traffic awareness programmes are being held on a regular basis with taxi drivers, school and college students, installation of 33 CCTV cameras in several areas of Shillong which has proved useful in monitoring traffic; formation of a WhatsApp group to monitor of traffic movement, etc.
The Home Minister also 'strongly' reacted to Congress' legislator, HM Shangpliang's remarks on traffic personnel facilitating and clearing the roads for MLAs to enable them to reach the assembly on time leaving the public on the lurch.
"The traffic boys are not only there for the MLAs. They work beyond their shifts to ensure smooth movement of traffic across the city and statements like these are an insult to their hardwork and dedication," said James.
Earlier, the Congress legislator Shangpliang highlighted the "pathetic" situation in Shillong stating that while on one hand, there have been reports of 108 ambulance getting stuck in traffic; and on the other, a VIP vehicle accompanied by a convoy was seen flouting the rules, parking in a no-parking zone in one of busiest hub of Shillong – Khyndai Lad. "If this is happening in Shillong, then whom do we blame?" he asked.
"The city is choked as traffic turns from bad to worse with every passing day; things have become unmanageable especially in the morning hours; there is chaos in the streets of Shillong; where should we put the blame?" asked the Mawsynram MLA.
While leveling the "first blame" on the government, Shangpliang said "In the last session, the chief minister had informed that a committee has been constituted to look into this issue but till date, we are yet to see or hear anything because the traffic management has not improved."
Reading out the details presented by the office of the District Transport Officer (DTO) of East Khasi Hills, Shangpliang said that a 2017-2018 data shows that as many as 15000 new vehicles are being registered in EKH alone in one year, which mean in a month, 1,250 new vehicles are registered. "If this is the rate, we can imagine what will be the condition of Shillong in the next 5 years," said Shangpliang.