Post Mortem

Poor roads in Nagaland leading to health, economic & safety hazards

Dimapur Oct 8 | Publish Date: 10/9/2020 12:23:12 AM IST

 Once, the famous US President, John F. Kennedy remarked, “American roads are not good because America is rich, but America is rich because American roads are good.” This remark finds due precedence in the present context of Nagaland whereby, due to incessant corruption, the condition of roads have been in disarray for many years down the line.

According to the Road Statistics of 2013, out of the total road length of 14377.30 Kms, 12108.00 Kms of Road comes under the purview of Nagaland PWD (R&B). This proves that a major responsibility lies on the Nagaland PWD for the construction and maintenance of the roads in Nagaland. However, in reality much of the statistics of road development have sadly remained only on the papers.

The Four Lane Road project connecting Dimapur with the State Capital, Kohima is taking ages for its completion though the foundation stone was laid by Union Minister for Road Transport & National Highways way back in 2015. The project was commissioned to the NHIDCL and was proposed to be completed within 3 years. But, it is utterly lamentable that despite several assurances by both the Central as well as the State Government, the four-lane project seems never ending. Has corruption and poor workmanship resulted in the snail-paced progress of this crucial road infrastructure?

The conditions of the other categories of roads within the state are also utterly neglected since the last many years without any signs of either new constructions or repair. All the money sanctioned by the Centre and the taxes collected by the State seems to vanish into thin air each year. It is only before the Elections that the Government puts on some cosmetic black tar over the roads and cover the pot-holes of their corruptions just to pacify the public and to garner some easy votes from the gullible voters. The condition of roads in almost all the districts have been lying neglected for years with no respite for commuters who have to survive the untold misery of bone wrenching and stomach churning journeys.

The corrupt leaders travelling in the comforts of their high-end and luxurious SUVs would never understand the plight and miseries of the common people. It seems that the conscience of these so called VVIPs have also vanished in thin air like the roads. In fact it is quite embarrassing and utterly shameful that the journey from Dimapur to Guwahati takes lesser time despite the length being couple of hundred kilometers more compared to a journey from Dimapur to other Districts of Nagaland. It is also utterly laughable that the State Government is pressing on the need for an airport in the State Capital when the soil is not stable and the roads are deplorable.

Can the total lack of development and maintenance of roads in Nagaland be attributed to cronyism and nepotism whereby crucial road contracts are given to favourable contractors? Does the government or concerned department check the credibility of such contractors and whether they are efficient and professionals? There is even a joke doing the rounds that in Nagaland sometimes even bus conductors become 1st class contractors! A major chunk of the funds allocated for construction and development of roads in Nagaland end up on the platters of these corrupt leaders, the remaining amount passes down the hierarchy of corruption to other officials. Only a small percentage allocated trickles down for the actual development of the roads. Therefore, this vicious cycle of corruption will continue unless and until appropriate anti-graft measures are not taken and the NGOs, Civic Bodies, Students’ Unions, Tribal Hohos, Local Bodies and the General Public raise their voices against the same as good roads are a basic right & amenity of every citizen. So, why are the common public not voicing their concerns and remaining mute spectators to all such corrupt practices? Even the judiciary including legal experts and consumer right forums, etc. must be proactive in creating awareness and taking legal actions while at the same time standing up against such corrupt practices as they are more equipped and well versed in the law and legalities than the laymen.

NPP Nagaland has also observed that there are no proper measures taken towards the Road Safety. Making a journey during the night, on rainy and foggy days is quite a challenging experience as there are no proper Sign Boards for alerting the drivers especially on the numerous bends, curves and diversions. Also, it is quite normal that random landslides take place in Nagaland for which the State Government should be prudent enough to station Emergency Services with proper equipments including Recovery Vans and Excavators at all such stretches round the clock throughout the state.

If the Government is not in a position to maintain the condition of the roads, it should at least ensure proper safety measures by putting up effective safety devices including reflectors and signboards, safety barriers, parapet/guide walls, proper drainage, proper manning of hazardous zones and deputing quick response teams on every vulnerable stretch of roads and accident prone areas. This will ensure low accident rates thus saving precious lives as this is one of the main reasons why many lives have been affected due to accidents taking place. NPP Nagaland is particularly concerned about the senior citizens, pregnant women and ailing patients who have to bear the major brunt of the ineffective, unsafe, underdeveloped and deplorable roads. It is to be noted that the road condition throughout the year is not favourable both during the monsoons as well as the dry months which poses health hazard and very early and pre-mature damage of vehicles which is a common occurrence in Nagaland for which the people are totally mute and complacent resulting in huge economic losses.

When we compare our roads to those of other states, we find that our roads don’t even last one season. The Government should therefore take up effective measures to hold the concerned people including the officials and Contractors accountable and responsible for any road development projects. In this regard, it would be more effective on the part of the contractors to give a written assurance of durability on all road projects for a minimum period of 3 years.

Better roads will also ensure faster movement of people and goods and thereby improve the economy of the state as a whole. We also request the State Government to revive the old and commendable practice of the BRO and BRTF whereby they used to put up quotations on the roadside to motivate the commuters and also the maintenance of the roads during the bygone days of the BRO & BRTF was highly efficient and commendable which should continue in days to come. As such, we once again call upon the State Government to look into this matter with due seriousness and respond in a positive and constructive manner.

IPR & Media Cell,

NPP Nagaland State

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