Kohima: Even as Kohima traders fight to recoup losses suffered due to lockdowns induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that Kohima Smart City’s recent decision to declare a “no-parking zone” along the road. main urban area of the city, coupled with “increased taxation” by Nagas political groups (NPG) cripples business in the state capital.
Peter Rutsa, chairman of the Traders Road Business Association Kohima (TRBAK), said the state government is “enforcing” the “no parking zone” along the stretch from TCP gate to Razhü point under the initiative. Kohima Smart City Development Limited (KSCDL) to create a permanent market place by removing existing parking spaces has “disappointed” local entrepreneurs and seasoned businessmen.
In symbolic protest against the enforcement measure that came into effect on Wednesday, local traders viewed their cars in the Old NST parking lot, the pilot location chosen by the Smart City Mission to convert parking lots into pedestrian spaces . . The KSCDL had previously decided to set up pedestrian-friendly bridges in the heart of Kohima town in a gradual manner.
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With around 400 commercial establishments ranging from restaurants, hotels to clothing and electrical appliance stores spread along the particular stretch, local merchants shared that the specified time for parking from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. was not convenient for traders to follow.
Rutsa informed that TRBAK was recently formed in light of the state government’s recent decision to voice traders’ grievances. Although traders pay the taxes required by the government and the municipality, he said that as stakeholders, local traders have not been heard.
While the business community is aware of the traffic congestion in Kohima, he said the government is waiting to resolve the problem by creating parking spaces rather than removing the available parking areas.
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With the repeated closures disrupting businesses, Rutsa said the removal of parking spaces adds to fewer business transactions as it sees a drop in consumers. He explained that local traders are also facing the increase in street vending activities outside of business stores, irregular electricity supply and lack of water supply, as all the traders in the city depend on local tankers for water supply.
Adding to the problem, he said the already existing tax problem, which has seen a “huge increase” in the wake of the pandemic, is negatively impacting local businesses. He added that instead of making the problems worse, the government should focus on solving the existing problems.
Keneikhrielie Mepfhu-o, treasurer of TRBAK, said that “the need of the hour is parking spaces” and not parks in the city along the section of the national road.
He said the government’s temporary arrangement to divert car parking was not feasible for both traders and buyers. Expressing his dismay at the recent ordinance passed by the state government, he said that before implementing such guidelines, an appropriate government research and development team should have investigated the areas and parts stakeholders to understand the feasibility of applying the ordinance.
In addition, Keluongutuo Solo, co-organizer of TRBAK, added that the “experimentation” of some projects along the stretch at the expense of local traders. He informed that traders suffered significant losses in terms of rupee crores cumulatively.
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The traders informed that the grievances they face have been forwarded to the relevant authority through the Kohima Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) office. The KSCDL, while taking note of the problems encountered by traders, proceeded with the implementation of smart city projects.
In addition, traders have said they are willing to cooperate with the government if the relevant authority can ‘convince’ local traders how the ripple effect of open spaces by removing existing parking spaces can. generate an environment conducive to the city’s economy, as it claims. by the letter addressed to the KCCI dated August 24.