A bus plying on Panaji-Dona Paula seen parked right on the zebra crossing opposite the city market. (Nandesh Kambli)
PANAJI: The lack of traffic discipline, lacunae in enforcement and parking problems in the capital were brought into focus this Christmas and New Year as traffic chaos reigned supreme.
Two points, that stuck out like sore thumbs and continue to do so even today in the otherwise uniformly chaotic city, are the 18th June Road and the road stretch between the market and the electricity department building along the Mandovi river.
One is choc-a-block with double and triple parking — the road lined with shops and restaurants including one run by a city father, and the other is made notorious by city buses parking all along it blocking regular road traffic, literally making it a single lane road and creating additional bottlenecks on the otherwise overcrowded route.
Transport officials say that they have asked local authorities to identify places to have bus bays on this riverside road so they can be marked. However, there is still no solution to the traffic nightmare on 18th June Road, especially with the city fathers getting bogged down on finding a parking solution for the city even though lots of proposals have been put forward.
Mr Antonio Ramalho, who works in the city, says that the problem could be sorted out in an instant in case the police, instead of trying to catch and ‘fine’ tourists, station some men there during peak hours and challan all double parked vehicles – with driver or without.
Transport officials say that the police and the city fathers have to sort out that issue as enforcement is primarily a police issue and parking is looked after by the corporation.
Mr Engelbert D’ Mello, another who travels everyday to the city as he works there, says the parking on 18th June Road is a no-no as the “road is already narrow with vehicles being allowed (legally) to park on both sides of the road.”
“On one side 4 wheelers are parked while on the other side 2 wheelers. Multi-level parking needs to be done and vehicles removed from roads or made to pay for parking with heavy hourly fees,” Mr D’Mello adds.
“Or tourist traffic can be kept outside the city,” he says.
The city has put up ideas on and off, but the implementation, probably because of the political will has stopped the proper traffic management in the city like removing petrol pumps from crowded areas.
TCP officials said that there is a legal provision that both the NGPDA and the CCP can conduct audits of buildings up to five years, but it is never enforced.
Proposals were also floated with even the mayor, Mr Yatin Parikh urged during a workshop held some time back that building rules had to be looked into and that schools shifted out of Panaji as well as parking spots for private vehicles identified.
Shuttle service was proposed in 2005, sources say, adding that the CCP has received two proposals to convert the Junta House in Panaji into a multi-level parking; first by architect Ralino D’Souza in 1996 and after that another proposal.
Recently, too, the Charles Correa Foundation held a presentation on their vision on how to de-congest Panaji with suggestion that the implementation be done in 4 phases.
A shuttle public transport services, pay parking lots, hop-on and hop-off public transport buses, and pedestrian zones were among the other suggestions.