Thursday, August 11, 2022

Fast lane risks

Nagaland’s first and only four-lane project along NH 29 appear to be besotted with problems such as delays and controversies. The road fatalities along the NH 29 is a cause for serious concern because there appears to be no proper monitoring and supervision by the contractor firms, the traffic police and due adherence to driving rules by drivers. The 4-lane project from Purana Bazar-Chümoukedima-Kohima is undertaken by contractors – M/s Ramky – ECI (JV) and M/s Gayatri Projects Ltd . The construction work was originally scheduled to have been completed by September 2019. The deadline was extended to March 31, 2021, as cited by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari in reply to a question in Lok Sabha. The road project began in 2016 and its completion even by end of 2022 appears unlikely. Former governor R.N.Ravi had taken personal interest in the project so as to have it completed within 2020. He held several meetings with the officials of National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corp. Ltd (NHIDCL) along with state officials, contractors who won the bid including local sub-contractors. It may be pointed out that most four-lane projects in other states such as Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have either met their deadline or not inordinately delayed as in the case with Nagaland. In Meghalaya the four-lane work between Guwahati-Shillong was completed in record time in 2015. The construction work began in 2013 and was to be completed by 2016.As rightly pointed out in the Lok Sabha by an MP, that portions of road(NH 29) that are completed have already developed potholes, which only shows very poor workmanship undertaken by sub-contractors. The tardy progress and poor workmanship are testing the patience of people especially the motorists. After one stretch is repaired the next year the other stretch gets damaged. This way, the NH 29 can never be totally completed. There have been many excuses but these cannot be used every time. The 4-lane construction over NH 29 is yet to be felt after Piphema towards Kohima. The stretch from Purana Bazar to Chümoukedima has become a driver’s hazard. Road mishaps have become almost a constant threat on the lives of commuters and motorists. Even within hardly a week, seven persons have died in two different road mishaps along the Purana Bazar- Chümoukedima stretch. Besides the strange fact that the width of the 4-lane is narrower at some stretch, there are more than 20 small roads intersecting the NH 29. This has been among the main causes of accidents. The other is that the four-lane lacks service roads. More often than not, vehicles including heavy vehicles are found parked at one of the lanes. This means that speeding vehicles have to ply on the right lane to avoid unforeseen parking that suddenly appear on left lane ahead. This adds to accident risks when drivers have to overtake to the left of the vehicle ahead. The surface of NH 29 is hard and uneven and ride not comfortable. The NHIDCL owes more than early completion of the 4-lane works on NH 29 as it has to also ensure that it continues to monitor the highway and ensure safety of motorists and commuters.

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