Tourist season, traffic snarls and need for alternatives

Gangtok, 02 May:

For 28-year-old Tshering Bhutia, a government employee and a mother, juggling office and managing her school-going child’s daily routine is already stressful and running after taxis on Gangtok's roads only makes things worse. Time management becomes especially difficult during the tourist season, when taxis prefer tourists over locals and traffic snarls are aplenty.

“Due to bad traffic management we [commuters] are the worst sufferers,” she says.

With the ongoing tourist season in the State, most of the taxis are reserved for the guests with a very limited number of vehicles plying in and around Gangtok.

For driver, Akash Sewa, this is a money minting month. He says in order to feed his family of five, he needs to slog hard in the “season” and often he does not take up any local service deliberately as it may adversely affect the yearly budget of his family.

Transportation has always been a challenge for Sikkim particularly in the capital.

“We definitely need alternatives now,” says a stakeholder in tourism industry, Bhumi Ravi.

A college student, Rahul Rai, who is also a daily commuter, feels that something like the monorail project proposed some years ago, is the need of the hour as monorails are cost effective and cheap but a comfortable mode of travel.

He further appeals to the government to initiate such a project.

The proposed monorail planned to cover the Ranipool-Gangtok stretch, a particularly traffic heavy stretch.

“Monorail is safer, it is quick and it is cheap, let’s hope this projects kicks off,” says another daily commuter who is an insurance agent, Renuka Pradhan.

Some government employees have demanded more public transport facilities in the wake of the ongoing tourist season which has meant daily struggles for many especially in the peak office hours of morning and evening.

Another commuter, Dhiren Rai, who is a local entrepreneur in the hospitality sector, has also questioned the responsibility of all the taxi drivers’ associations in delivering service to passengers, be it tourist or local.

“They should also create a mechanism which can address such problems, just leaving everything to the government is not fair,” he says.

“Bad traffic also has a bad effect on the human body. Long traffic jams can cause acute stress mentally which may lead to headache and other mental or psychological effects. Time management problems arising out of traffic jams may lead to stress,” states psychologist, Nitesh Shrestha.