IN MODERN INDIA, most of the metropolitan cities and the towns face the problem of traffic jam. The problem is aggravating due to rise in number of vehicles throughout the country. Every day, thousands of vehicles are being added to the city streets, which is not only contributing to the traffic jam problem, but also polluting the environment to a great extent.
In a fast growing city like Guwahati, which is also the gateway to the North East, the problem of traffic jam has become a serious issue and the situation is going from bad to worse with every passing day. Despite being well aware of the problem, the State Government has so far failed to put in place any scientific mechanism to deal with the problem. Some of the facilities available in the city to facilitate smooth movement of traffic are not at all sufficient to handle the situation.
The traffic jam problem has become very acute in the city also because of rampant encroachment of footpaths by hawkers, unauthorised parking and reckless driving, especially by the city bus drivers. And all these are happening right under the nose of the authorities concerned. Jumping red lights, overtaking and other forms of violation of traffic rules have become very common in the city. It seems the people of Guwahati have no respect for traffic rules. All these lead to traffic congestion and accidents, and the problem gets worsened due to lack of coordinated and scientific management in place.
There are about 3,600 roads in the city, including by-lanes, and more than one lakh vehicles ply on these roads on a daily basis. The city traffic police are left with no other options, but to deal with this enormous traffic with its limited manpower and resources.
Moreover, majority of drivers of city buses, trekkers and trucks are unskilled and they do not know the 'ABC' of traffic signals and other traffic rules and regulations. The city roads are replete with speed-breakers and road dividers without any fluorescent marking, turning these into deathtraps during the night.
It can also be seen that most of the city bus drivers indulge in competition on roads to pick up passengers. Such unwanted competition among bus drivers, over taking each other to reach bus stoppages earlier and reckless driving have added to the woes of common people while travelling on the city roads. Halting of six/seven buses at the same spot in the same time has become very common in busy areas like Ganeshguri, Paltan Bazar, Beltola Chariali and Maligaon Chariali. Why do the traffic police allow such illegal halting of more than six/seven city buses at the same spot in the same time?
Narrow roads and lanes in different parts of the city is another factor contributing to slow movement of traffic in many areas.
To avoid traffic congestion and to ensure safety of pedestrians, school children and senior citizens of the city, the following measures can be adopted by the department concerned of the Assam Government:
(1) Funds for different mega projects should be mobilised and for the proper implementation of the same, the GMDA, the GMC, the traffic police, the district administration, the planners and the developers should put their heads together.
(2) The Department of Transport, the traffic police and the PWD should jointly look after different aspects of road safety in the city.
(3) Whoever drives a motor vehicle or a city bus at a speed exceeding a prescribed limit should be punished with fine. Tipsy drivers should also be brought to book with exemplary punishment.
(4) There should be strict restriction on haphazard parking of heavy vehicles, city buses and private cars on busy roads of the city.
(5) Unskilled drivers should not be allowed to drive on the busy roads of the city.
(6) A stringent licence-issuance process and imposition of stiff penalties for the violators, and also imposition of exemplary on-the-spot penalty for violation of traffic rules or rash driving are a must.
(7) Maximum 2 or 3 city buses should be allowed to park at a city bus stop in the same time for avoiding traffic jam.
(8) Deployment of adequate traffic police personnel is a must for the regulation of ever-increasing traffic in the city.
(9) Quick completion of construction/repairing of roads and by-lanes in the city in the rainy season should be made mandatory.
(10) Traffic police personnel or the Transport Department officials must conduct random checking of city buses/vehicles for fake licences and overloading.
(11) Zebra-crossings with white paint should be visible from a distance.
(12) Construction of more footbridges and flyovers is necessary at busy intersections in the city.
(13) Widening of all the busy roads in the city is necessary to accommodate increasing traffic.
(14) Electronic traffic control systems should be installed at all traffic points in the city.
(15) Let the automobile dealers sell new cars only after getting approval of the Transport Department.
(16) Use of cell phones while driving should be strictly disallowed.
(17) Last but not the least, the authorities concerned must carry out effective mass awareness campaigns on traffic rules and regulations on a regular basis.