By: Yaruihor Hungyo, A Citizen
I set off to work with my scooter Jupiter, in the morning around 10:30, from Khuman Lampak. When I reached the Khongnang Ani Karak junction, as usual, the barricade was in place to stop vehicles from making a right round turn thereby preventing anyone from entering the Assembly Road (and the Mantripukhri Highway). I see that every day since the first day of Assembly Session. So normally, vehicles go a few distances down south and make a U-Turn between the MBC and TBCI Church where the road median barrier had an opening.
But today, there were police and traffic personnel preventing even the two wheelers from making a U-turn at that usual spot. So, cars and other vehicle further went south where there is another opening, opposite to the 2nd MR Gate. But again, there were traffic personnel shunting any crossover. All the motors that have been trying to make a U-Turn must have breathed a sigh of relief when there finally appears a free U-Turn opening opposite the Hotel Imphal Gate.
I always wonder why people had to travel a further 1 KM down South and come back thereby unnecessarily travelling 2 KM and wasting precious 10 – 15 minutes, considering the traffic congestion caused by the situation. Since my job is often time-critical, I know those few minutes could be really precious for some people. And all the while, the opposite lane - from the North AOC to the Khongnang Ani Karak, was virtually empty.
I was happy for those drivers who finally escaped from the snail paced journey down South towards North AOC. I was on a scooter, so I sneaked in between gaps and manage to reach North AOC Junction where I ran into a massive traffic jam. I waited patiently as I am already accustomed to such scene especially during the morning office-going hour.
But to my surprise, I realized, traffic from all directions have been brought to an abrupt halt. The police and the traffic personnel must have received a radio call that a VIP is en route for the Assembly Session and that the traffic be cleared so he/ she is not late for the Assembly.
I took a role of a responsible citizen and understood, the House is almost in session, they shouldn’t be late. I was really ‘cool’ patient. But, 4 – 5 minutes in, everything is still stand still, except for few vehicles trying to niche around the traffic rules and go to the front of the jam. I turned off my engine, and took out my mobile phone. I read my unread messages, and social media notifications. Still, everything still stands still.
I opened my CoC (game) and I was actually hoping the so-called VIP take some extra time to arrive so I can launch one war attack. I successfully scored 2 stars (only CoC gamers can understand this). But still there was no sign of any VIP passing by. I did my second war attack, and in the meanwhile, the VIP convoys started coming one after another. The traffic is already dead-jam-packed - till the 2nd MR Gate on the north, Minuthong on the east and PCTC oil pump in the west. I had enough time to even reply to one of my emails. After prolonged wait, the traffic finally started moving for fresh air.
The Prime Minister of India banned Red Beacon on the 1st of May 2017, with the aim of ending VIP culture. But with a ban on Red Beacon, the reality of ending VIP culture seems to have gone the other way around. Back in the days when the Red Beacon was still in place, the traffic is adjusted as and when we hear the Red Beacon siren coming. But now, they communicate in radio and hold up the whole traffic when they’re en route.
Today, I thought the VIP probably was zipping his pants and tying his shoe lace or combing his hairs in the comfort of his/ her bungalow while the traffic was already brought to stand still anticipating their arrival.
I reached my workplace 15 or so minutes late and when asked upon by my boss, I told him I had to wait for our Honourable People’s Representative to pass through before I could cross some traffic junctions. He node his head in understanding - he probably must have been through similar experience.
Today was just another story. There was another time when the traffic was dead-jammed from the Eastern Kangla Gate to the Babupara Junction to the Keishampat Junction waiting for the Governor to come out of her bungalow and go to wherever she was suppose to go. The traffic brought to absolute halt for more than 10-15 minutes while the governor is probably sipping the bottom half of her cup.
While waiting, one person on another Activa nearby joked – “if only the internet service in Manipur is good enough, the Governor could just sit in the comfort of Raj Bhavan and do video conference instead of coming out and harassing us like this.”
I don’t think this could have happened if red beacon system still was in place. True, Red Beacons disturb the normal flow of the traffic, but without the Red Beacon, THE WHOLE TRAFFIC ON THE ROUTE FOR THE VIP IS BROUGHT TO ABRUPT HALT.
So I have come to a point, either, PM Modi’s initiative is an epic deception, or the supposedly enforcers of PM’s vision lack the slightest of understanding of what our honourable Prime Minister have put forth on the table.
But for now, it is safe to say, gone are the days of Red Beacons and VIP Culture, it is time to embrace the VVVIP Culture.