TODAY -

Where have all the lights gone ?

Nicky Chandam *

 Near Raj Bhawan : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018
Near Raj Bhawan : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018



Currently the Directorate of transport is taking up extensive measure to clear traffic mess in the Imphal city. It is a welcome move. The difference is seen in just matter of couple of days. The daily congestion created by auto-rickshaws at BT road and Wahengbam leikai leading to Keishampat has been corrected. What a relief! Kudos to the department.

The other day when I stopped for the traffic at opposite Kangla gate, my mind took me back to schooldays when I saw the traffic lights of Imphal function. As a kid I was quite exciting whenever I saw the traffic lights go green to yellow, yellow to red and vice versa. I studied about the traffic lights in my school text books and seeing them in reality was exciting for a small town middle class girl.

Then slowly the traffic lights lost its glow. They were no longer functioning like the law and order in the State. In the 90s Manipur was grappling with electricity issues as most of us know, if one day the transformer was down the next day it was load shedding.

Those generations of students who grew up in Manipur owe a big part of their career to Moreh candles, Moreh invertors and Kerosene supplied by the ration dealers. Maybe the Govt and the public were neck deep in managing lights in their own buildings and houses that no one really cared if the traffic lights were working.

 Keishampat Junction : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018
Keishampat Junction : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018



Today in 2018, the Government has managed to provide 24*7 electricity to the houses with cleared bills, in the Imphal city. Manipur is shining! (I don’t know what is happening in the hills.)

Maybe that’s why at a subconscious level my mind asked me this question – Where have all the lights gone?

So, I took a drive around the city just to check if any of the traffic lights are functioning.

Route taken – Yaishkul, CM Bungalow road, Governor Bungalow road, Kangla gate, North A.O.C, Chingmeirong, Thangmeiband, Lamphelpat , Uripok, Wahengbam Leikai, Keishampat, Pishumthong, Singjamei.

 Near Raj Bhawan : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018
Near Raj Bhawan : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018



All the lights were off as if they have gone on a long holiday. I wished how the lights would come back from the long holiday one day, suddenly on their own, and start functioning just like A.K Pandey! But the lights seemed to have no one to back them.

Oh! I remember an incident which happened recently.

I have been living in Delhi for 14 years and this time I was back to Imphal after 2 years. In Delhi I am used to following the traffic lights while on the road. So, the mind is automated to stop when the light is red, slow down when it is yellow and go when it is green.

I do turn off the engine if the wait is longer than 2 min. Traffic lights there display the wait time also.
(Just sharing this part as plot building of the story)

It happened that one bright morning I was driving towards Kangla from CM Bunglow. I was singing Bob Marley in head “Buffalo Soldiers”. Suddenly I got shouted at. And I stopped. I got a nice scolding from the traffic personal. It was totally my fault. I didn’t see the 5 feet tall traffic personnel wearing white uniform on a bright day, gesturing signals.

 Chingamathak : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018
Chingamathak : Traffic Lights at Imphal in October 2018



My mind, as I said, automated to look for traffic lights, missed to look at the traffic personnel. That day onwards I never missed wearing sunglasses while driving in Imphal.

Later I was sitting at an Ene Hoten, having Changaang and Bora wondering why hasn’t the Government taken any steps for fixing the traffic lights in Manipur for such a long time. Just then a sparrow flew from somewhere and sat on the table near me. It took a sip of Changaang and told me a story that last year the Government of Manipur had announced it will fix all the traffic lights soon.

But I couldn’t believe the sparrow; they are known to spread stories. No wonder, not many sparrows are seen in Imphal today.

Coming to the end of the story, it is my humble request to the Directorate of Transport to call the traffic lights that have gone on a long suspension since the 90s, back to their job.

Let’s show Imphal is a smart city.

(PS: I wish Pandey would go on a long suspension like Imphal traffic lights)

Disclaimer: Views are personal of the writer. Please do not assume everything you read to be true. Please check with the Directorate of Transport if the claims that traffic lights are not functioning since 90s to be true.


* Nicky Chandam wrote this article for e-pao.net
She is an emerging poet, photographer, writer, curator, director and a passionate story-seeker.
She is based in Delhi. Can be reached at n(DOT)chandam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on 03 October , 2018 .


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