A study of the growing traffic congestion in Imphal

Ng Liklaileima Arambam *

 Traffic condition in Imphal city in August 2012
Traffic condition in Imphal city in August 2012 :: Pix - Hueiyen Lanpao

With growing number of businesses and vehicles, Imphal city is becoming congested. Cars, two wheelers, buses and auto-rickshaws stuck in long lines during peak hours on the busy streets of Imphal is not new to anyone who visits the city.

What are the causes of these heavy traffic congestion in the city? Does the city lack proper planning or is it because of the increasing number of vehicles? Well, let's find out here. Imphal is a growing business hub attracting many from all the nook and corner of the State.

It has all the major Government and private offices, banks, elite schools and hospitals. And above this, it has the famous Ima (women's) Keithel and other bazars.

All these attract large number of people and streets are full with vehicles ranging from bicycles to two wheelers and cars to heavy trucks. The city also has three National Highways running through it and the roads lack separate lanes for specific types of vehicles.

Paona Keithel, Thangal Keithel, GM Hall areas, Kangla Pat, Kalimai and Uripok to Khoyathong are some of the areas that are very congested, mainly due to lack of parking space.

Even though the building bye laws mandate the houses and buildings in Imphal city to have basements for use as parking space, almost none have this. Some have basements, but a majority of these (basements) are used as shops and godowns.

Further, parking a two w heeler vehicle on the roadside cost Rs 20.However, the Transport Department and the Traffic Regulation and Parking Committee have not dedicated regulations to charge the vehicles parked by the hours.

Traffic congestion

The Department of Town Planning, Manipur in 2018 had conducted a survey to study the Passenger Car Unit (PCU), the rate of flow of traffic on four major roads in Imphal city area. PCU is a unit that measures the rate of traffic flow on a highway/road.

As per the 2018 survey, Khongnang Ani Karak, Chinmeirong to North AOC traffic point had a PCU of 3,300 per hour and it was projected to become 4,000 per hour in 2 years. The same survey had also determined the PCU at City Convention, Palace Compound to General Post Office at 4,300 per hour.

The road was projected to have a PCU of 5,200 per hour in 2 years. Moirangkhom to General Post Office had a PCU of 4,900 per hour and it was projected to become 6,000 per hour in 2 years.

Keishamthong to Keishampat traffic point had a PCU of 2600 per hour, projected to become 3,100 per hour in 2 years. As per the survey, the roads were found not congested in line with the Indian Roads Congress Code 109. The Indian Roads Congress Code 109 defines a PCU of 5,400 per hour as an ideal PCU for roads having 6 lanes.

It also defines the ideal PCU for 4 lanes to be 3,600 per hour. When a PCU exceeds 80 percent of the respective ideal value, the road is said to be congested. As per the IRC Code 109, the four roads were found not congested, said Associate Town Planner of the Department of Town Planning, Meisnam Manas.

On the other hand, Project Director of PIU, PWD (Project Implementation Unit, Public Works Department), Yumnam Joykumar said 6 major traffic points (junctions) were defined congested in 2015 by a survey the PIU jointly conducted with the Aegis International of France in 2015.The six major junctions are Keishampat, MG Avenue, Kangla Western Gate, Khoyathong, Moirangkhom and Khongnang Ani Karak.

Keishampat junction (traffic point) had a PCU of 5,681/hour while, MG Avenue, Kangla Western Gate, Khoyathong, Moirangkhom and Khongnang Ani Karak had PCUs - 5312/hr, 6391/hr, 5562/hr, 4603/hr and 3617/ hr respectively. The Project Director said the congestions on the roads in Imphal have many causes.

There is mixed traffic, meaning there is no separate lane for a type of vehicle. Bicycles, auto-rickshaws, cars, two wheelers, buses and other slow moving vehicles all ply the same road. There are no separate lanes for slow moving vehicles and cycles. This has added to the traffic congestion on these roads, he said.

To ease the traffic somewhat as interim measures, the traffic islands have been made smaller to provide wider motorways, and railings have been constructed. Further, the planned 32 kilometres Imphal Ring Road (IRR) is aimed at easing traffic and reducing usage of the National Highways passing through the busy city.

The Rs 888 crore Imphal Ring Road (IRR) will be funded by the Asian Development Bank. The PIU (Project Implementation Unit) of the PWD has held a total of six meetings with the ADB. The final meeting is expected to be held in the last week of February and work of the IRR may start from June.

The project is targeted to be completed within 3 years, he said. In addition, there are also plans to construct elevated highways along Malom to Koirengei (NH-2) and Raj Bhavan to Canchipur (NH-102) sections, he added. The Project Director, however did not mention any plan for construction of subways and flyovers in the city.

Public Transport

Former Joint Director of Transport, BK Sharma suggested that the urban transport planning must include parking and traffic plans. Imphal city lacks parking plans, he said. He further suggested that to ease traffic in the city, the Government and the Transport Department must encourage the public transport system and its usage among the people.

Proper regulations and guidelines should be made to improve the public transports. He said that the MST which had introduced 27 buses covering 20 routes has failed to attract people. 10 of the buses are non functional and only 17 are plying the road.

Giving pointers to improve the public transport system, he said the Department and the Government should focus on improving the service, availability and frequency (of buses and other means of transport), time, comfort (of using the service) and last but not the least, the buses or the transport should be made attractive.

In 2020 March there had been a total of 4,44,341 vehicles registered with the Directorate of Transports. Of these, 21,896 were public transport.

Master plan

Meanwhile, the Department Town Planning said a traffic survey has been completed (in 2019) by the School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal for a Master Plan Greater Imphal 2041.The Master Plan under the Smart City Mission includes the planned Imphal Ring Road, construction of multi level car parks.

* Ng Liklaileima Arambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This report is filed under the Khelen Thokchom Media Fellowship .
This article was webcasted on February 04 2021 .

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