Commuters left waiting for taxis following the protest by taxi drivers in Gangtok Credit: Wang Chen

Gangtok: The Sikkim traffic police department’s move to remove ‘taxi stops’ at several locations along National Highway-10 — in a bid to tackle traffic congestion in those areas — has evoked widespread resentment among the taxi drivers.

On Thursday, ‘affected’ taxi drivers assembled at Traffic Control Centre in Titanic Park in Gangtok to demanded immediate scrapping of the decision keeping the greater interest of the consumers in mind.

Earlier in the day, the Sikkim traffic police removed vehicles from the Convoy Ground stoppage points largely on the grounds that they were causing traffic jams. Similarly, taxis from the Nam Nang taxi stoppage point, below the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, was removed due to the ongoing Budget session of the state assembly. Such a move was also taken on MG Marg and other locations along NH-10.

A police official controlling the traffic at Tadong in Gangtok as commuters wait for taxis

More than 150 taxi drivers took part in the protest rally leaving their vehicles on the highway from Convoy Ground, Dara Gaon to Titanic Park on MG Marg.

Expressing serious concern over the issue, Sikkim Chalak Morcha vice-president Chung Chung Bhutia said, “There is a taxi stoppage point in Nam Nang, but the same has also been removed for the time being because of the ongoing state assembly session. Following the removal of Nam Nang taxi stop point, more such traffic points from Star Hall area and MG Marg have also been removed. We have requested for one taxi stop point at MG Marg area. It’s the commuters who get hampered the most in the MG Marg belt as the shoppers have to commute all the way to Nam Nang. The same is equivalent of reaching Nam Nang and even closer to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.”

There are merely 7,960 taxis, while the private vehicles are far more with the numbers reaching over 30,000 in East Sikkim alone

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There are 7,960 taxis, including more than 30,000 private vehicles in East Sikkim alone.

“We have taken the matter to the DIG Range who assured us of conducting a survey of the various spots along the NH-10 on Friday. They have claimed that they will be acting on resolving the issue. But instead of blaming the taxi drivers, the traffic police must also take into account the increased numbers of private vehicles. The drivers have been demanding that all the previous taxi stop points be allowed again, as the same taxi stop points have been ferrying the commuters for years now,” stated Bhutia.

If the matter is not resolved soon, the taxi drivers’ association will take up the matter to the higher authorities, he added.

The DIG Range also ensured of taking tough stand against private vehicles yet asserted that parking spots for private vehicles to be far less along NH-10 in Gangtok

Meanwhile, Sonam Tenzing Bhutia, DIG Range, said that the Sikkim Traffic Police is trying to review some taxi stoppage points along NH-10. He also ensured of taking tougher stand against private vehicles yet asserted that parking spots for private vehicles to be far less along NH 10-here in Gangtok.

“In the MG Marg stretch, if the private vehicles fail to get a parking spot, then they will have to take the vehicle all the way to Ridge Park area. There is a a need for equal parking spots for all the vehicles. There is lack of space. Hence, we demand cooperation from the taxi drivers’ association as well,” the DIG Range said.

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