Meghalaya: Shillong Traffic Lights- A sorry state of Public Finance and Economy!


-By Pritosh Debbarma

September 25, 2017: Automated Traffic Lights could prove to be a helping hand of the Traffic Police in Shillong city, to manage the traffic on the roads and to maintain a clear flow of traffic. Technological equipment is an indication of modernization and advancement of technologies. We all have been taught of the traffic light indications in our classrooms, the Red light to stop, Yellow to proceed with caution and Green for Go. These indications have been followed universally with the help of Traffic posts.

The Traffic signals mostly does the job, signalling the drivers, while only minimal work is left for the traffic personnel and the work load is reduced from the traffic men, posted in different points of the road. In some major cities of the country like Agra and Bareilly, Solar Traffic lights have also been installed for power efficiency which costs about Rs. 8 lakh against the traditional Traffic posts which costs between Rs. 4 lakh to 5 lakh.

However, Shillong has an entirely different scenario to offer! If one is driving in Shillong, one will see the Traffic policeman manually handling the traffic and the yellow traffic posts idly erected in the road performing no function and absolute failure of the traffic signal posts. Shillong traffic sometimes gets really heavy and the policeman finds it difficult to manage it while facing the brunt of pollution, frequent rain and cold. It may be assumed that if the Traffic posts would have been working, the traffic would have been diverted in a more organized manner. Or is the failure evident because the drivers are more familiar with the manual traffic personnel than the robotic traffic posts.

Whatever the reason maybe, a huge monetary loss has been incurred as the traffic posts costs between Rs. 4 lakh to 5 lakh. On interviewing the Traffic Inspector , S. Kumar, who was on duty at Barik point taxi stand, it was found that after the installation of traffic light posts it was functional for only a few days but there were some malfunctioning in the sensors of the automated traffic lights which he cites could be the reason for not using the traffic lights. He also rued the fact that had the traffic lights been working, probably the workload would have been reduced to a great extent. The traffic booths are also not proper as when it rains, it becomes difficult for the traffic police to manage the traffic as the drivers are sometimes unable to see signals given by them which raises the necessity of having an operational automated traffic light. Many drivers seem to be in oblivion of the reason as to why the traffic lights have not been operational till date.

Another Traffic Constable A.K. Singh posted near the Governor House, Police Bazar tells us that manual signalling has become his habit after his 58 years of service. He claims that hand signalling does the job better than the automated Traffic light posts. He adds, "The presence of Traffic Light Batons with the Shillong Traffic Police would strike the problem of visibility at night or even during the day". The Traffic Constable is absolutely unaware of the cost of installation of the traffic posts and believes all the decisions has been taken by the Meghalaya Government.

Meanwhile, taxi drivers who are the victims of heavy traffic jams believe that narrow roads are the reason for traffic congestion and not manual traffic signals. One of the local taxi driver tells us that he would be confused if traffic lights begin to work as he had always seen traffic policemen signalling him to stop and go. Taxi drivers and the citizens are not aware of the money spent on installation of traffic posts and now since the traffic lights have been non functional, the money invested for public welfare is going in vain. The traffic posts are now rusted, some posts are falling apart as a consequence of no maintenance. It is a matter of worry for our economy,  huge money has been spent for public welfare but instead, they are being wasted in this manner. Meghalaya Traffic Police is evidently hard working- their works ranging from easing traffic snarls to scraping tinted glass in cars. The Traffic police works in two shifts, one shift from 7 am to 1 pm and the second shift from 1 pm to 8 pm.

But well, with the upcoming Assembly Elections 2018, it will be interesting to note whether this issue will be taken up at all or will the voters' luring activity will only be limited to mere inaugurations and laying of foundation stones, only time will tell!

The above article is an assignment under the internship programme undergone by Pritosh Debbarma with TNT- The Northeast Today