In what will be a welcome change on the Thimhu-Babesa expressway, the Thimphu thromde will start designating pick up and drop off stands to ease traffic congestion.
This is one facility conspicuously missing on our roads, whether it is in small towns or the capital. Without such a facility, taxis abruptly stop on seeing a passenger, causing panic to the driver behind. Often, this leads to accidents. During rush hours especially, we can see drivers eye-balling at each other as they manoeuvre the little space on the double-lane expressway.
We cannot blame the taxi drivers or even others to screeching to a halt on the busy road. There are no designated places for passengers to wait for taxis. Passengers are taxi driver’s business and they wouldn’t want to miss them when competition is neck to neck.
The need for such space, also called loading zone, has been expressed since we started experiencing congestion on the expressway many years ago. But we waited for 100 penalised taxi drivers to approach authorities. That way, it appears that this was compelled to be made when100 taxi drivers, not necessarily for safety or smooth flow of traffic, called for a gathering feeling aggrieved when issued infringement notices last week.
The taxi drivers were right, of course. Where will they pick up passengers from? There are no loading zones. Taxi drivers are known for being reckless. This time, however, they should be credited for convincing authorities to bring an important change in our road safety system.
However, it is not clear if spaces will be created. It would be a sad affair if we just put up signboards along the roads. This will not really ease the congestion. What we need is extra space on the busy road at regular intervals. Taxis and buses at the stops should not disrupt the traffic. And then the taxi drivers will not complain if they are penalised for stopping at undesignated areas.
Going by traffic on our roads today, it demands some serious and honest solutions. More areas for school children to cross the road safely, overhead bridges and underground passes for convenience of both pedestrians and vehicles have become indispensable.
Our planners, well exposed and highly trained, should start looking into these crucial facilities in the fast-growing capital. Or, should we wait for death of 100 students or pedestrians to approach authorities?
We cannot stop the number of vehicles from growing. Even hefty taxes on vehicle import couldn’t do so. What we need to do is expand the infrastructure to keep up with the growth. And that includes efficient and cheap public transport services.