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With over 9.5 lakh vehicles, are city roads choked?

By Rituraj Borthakur
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GUWAHATI, Feb 28 - Driving is no longer fun in Guwahati. It is a challenge � or even an ordeal at times � each denizen has to face every day, negotiating through the chaotic traffic, narrow roads, unplanned parking and reckless driving.

Consider this: around 1,22,584 new vehicles have been registered with the District Transport Office (Kamrup) since April 2015, taking the number of on-road vehicles in the city to over 9.5 lakh. According to the District Transport Officer (DTO), around 300 new vehicles are registered every day � one series of registration numbers often exhausts in three to four months� time.

�This apart, around 4,000 vehicles coming from Tripura, around 5,000 from Meghalaya, around 1,000 from Nagaland and another 300 from Mizoram and Manipur land up in Guwahati every day. Then, there are those coming from other nearby towns and vehicles belonging to the security forces, about which we have no record,� said a senior transport official.

In the last couple of years, over 13,000 app-based taxis have been registered and are plying on the city roads, estimates said.

Despite the rapid increase in the number of vehicles, transport officials are not convinced that the vehicular load has exceeded the carrying capacity of the city roads. The total length of the black-topped roads in the city is a little over 218 km.

�The problem is with the unruly parking and violation of traffic rules. For instance, many of the city buses are plying on routes in sheer violation of permits. We have caught some. But given the number of enforcement officers, it is not easy to tackle the menace,� said a senior Transport Department official.

He also pointed out the parking lots, like the one at Paltan Bazar, which are not being utilised by the people.

The Kamrup DTO has stopped giving permits to app-based taxis, but that has not helped solve the problem. Such commercial vehicles are getting registered with the DTO at Amingaon and plying in the city.

�For metro share taxis, we are only giving permits to those vehicles which have come as replacement to the banned old trekkers,� the official said.

According to Dr Arup Kumar Sarma, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Guwahati, though the new flyovers have eased the carrying capacity of the roads, there are a number of bottlenecks, or narrow patches of roads within the city, which compounds the congestion problem.

�The Government ought to work out ways to either widen these bottlenecks or regulate the traffic flow. We need more underground, multi-storey and rotary parking.

Moreover, the enforcement of rules and regulations is weak. The regulatory mechanism needs to be automated through the use of modern gadgets,� he said.

Senior consultant engineer JN Khataniar said the departments concerned have already widened all the important roads within Guwahati city upto the possible limits and further widening is not easily possible with respect to the increasing traffic demand day by day.

�To increase the carrying capacity of all the important roads within Guwahati, we have to utilise the only space that remains untouched, that is, open spaces above the important roads. This can be done scientifically with suitable kind of elevated mass rapid transit system. This is the only solution to minimise the high traffic on the roads,� he said.

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With over 9.5 lakh vehicles, are city roads choked?

GUWAHATI, Feb 28 - Driving is no longer fun in Guwahati. It is a challenge � or even an ordeal at times � each denizen has to face every day, negotiating through the chaotic traffic, narrow roads, unplanned parking and reckless driving.

Consider this: around 1,22,584 new vehicles have been registered with the District Transport Office (Kamrup) since April 2015, taking the number of on-road vehicles in the city to over 9.5 lakh. According to the District Transport Officer (DTO), around 300 new vehicles are registered every day � one series of registration numbers often exhausts in three to four months� time.

�This apart, around 4,000 vehicles coming from Tripura, around 5,000 from Meghalaya, around 1,000 from Nagaland and another 300 from Mizoram and Manipur land up in Guwahati every day. Then, there are those coming from other nearby towns and vehicles belonging to the security forces, about which we have no record,� said a senior transport official.

In the last couple of years, over 13,000 app-based taxis have been registered and are plying on the city roads, estimates said.

Despite the rapid increase in the number of vehicles, transport officials are not convinced that the vehicular load has exceeded the carrying capacity of the city roads. The total length of the black-topped roads in the city is a little over 218 km.

�The problem is with the unruly parking and violation of traffic rules. For instance, many of the city buses are plying on routes in sheer violation of permits. We have caught some. But given the number of enforcement officers, it is not easy to tackle the menace,� said a senior Transport Department official.

He also pointed out the parking lots, like the one at Paltan Bazar, which are not being utilised by the people.

The Kamrup DTO has stopped giving permits to app-based taxis, but that has not helped solve the problem. Such commercial vehicles are getting registered with the DTO at Amingaon and plying in the city.

�For metro share taxis, we are only giving permits to those vehicles which have come as replacement to the banned old trekkers,� the official said.

According to Dr Arup Kumar Sarma, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Guwahati, though the new flyovers have eased the carrying capacity of the roads, there are a number of bottlenecks, or narrow patches of roads within the city, which compounds the congestion problem.

�The Government ought to work out ways to either widen these bottlenecks or regulate the traffic flow. We need more underground, multi-storey and rotary parking.

Moreover, the enforcement of rules and regulations is weak. The regulatory mechanism needs to be automated through the use of modern gadgets,� he said.

Senior consultant engineer JN Khataniar said the departments concerned have already widened all the important roads within Guwahati city upto the possible limits and further widening is not easily possible with respect to the increasing traffic demand day by day.

�To increase the carrying capacity of all the important roads within Guwahati, we have to utilise the only space that remains untouched, that is, open spaces above the important roads. This can be done scientifically with suitable kind of elevated mass rapid transit system. This is the only solution to minimise the high traffic on the roads,� he said.