Gangtok: Private vehicle owners have not responded kindly to the idea of the odd-even rule introduced by the state transport department from June 6 on feeder roads to National Highway (NH) 10 in the city.
The aim is to control the heavy traffic flow in Gangtok, and the rule will apply from 9:30 am to 5 pm, considered peak hours.
The rules from the state transport department apply only to four-wheelers. Two-wheelers, taxi vehicles, luxury taxis, heavy vehicles, public transport such as buses, and government-registered vehicles are exempted from the odd-even rule.
On June 3, Sikkim Police, led by ADGP, Law and Order, Akshay Sachdeva and Gangtok Superintendent of Police, Tenzing Loden Lepcha, held a press conference to address the confusion surrounding the new traffic rules.
They termed it as a short-term solution till further orders. “Despite the relentless effort made by traffic police, thousands of vehicles are seen plying on the road, causing heavy traffic jams, especially in the peak hours of the day. The restriction will not be applicable on Saturdays, Sundays and government holidays,” they said.
The state government doesn’t want to disrupt the commute of the general public coming to Gangtok for official or personal work, the officials added.
“We are hopeful that this effort will help in controlling the traffic to a great extent as it will minimise about 15-20% of traffic issues in the capital,” said Sachdeva. He also mentioned that Sikkim Police is geared up to enforce the given notification.
Speaking on specific timing scheduled for the private vehicle’s movement, BK Tamang, DIG range-cum-spokesperson, Sikkim Police, stated, “The decision is completely in the public’s favour. Employees easily carry out their work before and after the restricted timings since they are free to commute before 9.30 am and after 5 pm. Police alone cannot tackle this issue, it requires equally support and coordination from the public. We are hopeful that people will co-operate with us and make this mechanism a success.”
Tenzing Loden Lepcha stressed that passengers plying in essential services will need to carry their identity cards as they will be asked to produce them by the officers on duty.
Additional SP, Traffic, Arjun Kumar Tamang warned of punitive actions against those violating the same. He also appealed to the public to extend their co-operation towards bringing down traffic problems around the Capital.
‘Why spare government vehicles?‘
However, across social media in Sikkim, the decision is being questioned on grounds of how it targets only private vehicles. Many argued that taxis are the main cause of traffic in Gangtok. Elsewhere, others highlighted how government and VIP vehicles misuse the traffic jam by jumping traffic to create an additional ‘third lane in traffic for their swift movement’, which, they claim, the Sikkim traffic police turns a blind eye towards.
Sikkim Police highlighted how an average of 100 government vehicles get challaned every month while maintaining that the odd-even rule is a short-term solution, with phase-wise traffic management to follow. They suggested that government vehicles may also come under the odd-even rule in the future.
Most in Gangtok argue how government vehicles can resort to carpooling as those going to the same office or department can commute together instead of using multiple vehicles. But the same has been ignored by bureaucrats.
Talking of public transport like buses, the Sikkim Police suggested, “City-runner buses are very slow as the roads in Gangtok are not made for their swift commute. Maybe smaller buses could be a solution, but one bus travelling on Gangtok highway slows down the traffic for 20 other vehicles behind them.”
Most across social media have suggested either implementing an odd-even rule for every other vehicle, but Sikkim Police believes otherwise. “Those commuting in private vehicles have the alternative of commuting via taxis. When we apply odd-even against taxis, a major part of middle-class people will be affected. They are the ones who cannot find alternatives for travel other than a taxi. So we do not incline on affecting them,” said the police officials.
Sikkim Police was suggestive that the odd-even rile on feeder roads to NH-10 may create confusion for a week, but Sikkim Police is geared to clarify such confusion mid traffic from June 6. Sikkim Police said, “The first week could get confusing, but once people start getting acquainted with the rules, we are certain to bring down the traffic jam by 15-20 per cent.”
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