Nagaland’s Infamous Roads and Bridges
The people of Nagaland have endured deplorable road conditions for decades now. Bad roads and bridges have become synonymous to the state. From Dimapur’s Purana Bazaar pothole-filled road that is now hosting hour-long traffic jams even on Sundays, to Longleng district’s Lasong Bridge that was reportedly in a “pathetic condition and threatening the lives of travellers for years” (as per DIPR press release) and was renovated just a few days ago. The blame for the road conditions was not on corrupt politicians alone, but also of bureaucrats and officers who oversee the repair projects. Domicile NGOs and public that elect such leaders are also to blame; the need of the hour is to start greater movements and demand for change. Good road conditions are elemental in the development and progress of a state; they provide connectivity to important institutions such as hospitals, schools, and life-sustaining commodity markets.
However, to Nagaland’s credit, several road and bridge projects are underway with many more in the pipeline. This includes the four-lane project of the existing Kohima-Dimapur road and the twelve road stretches under SARDP-NE approved by the Ministry of Road transport and Highways (MoRTH). In eastern Nagaland, a phase-wise upgrade of the Longleng-Tuensang road is due to start in October this year through funds from the North East Council, with the 46 km road from Nokzang in Mon district to Longding up next for renovation. Nagarjan bridge, Old Dhansiri bridge and Sanuorü bridge are noteworthy bridge projects currently being undertaken. It is important to note that road projects are halted or slowed down during the rainy season and thus can cause delays to work projects.
In contrast to the generally unfathomable road conditions in other parts of Nagaland, the roads in the state capital Kohima, have seen a dramatic change over the past year. Credit goes to the hard work and dedication of the contractors and diligent government officers who ensured quality and swiftness of work; as well as the invaluable support given by colony heads and youth groups. Never-before-used machinery and revised and more stringent road-making standards were employed in the road projects in Kohima. Amidst the new standards for road projects, the clause of repairing and maintaining road conditions after the initial renovation and construction is an important one for citizens to note and demand, as it makes contractors liable to uphold good road conditions for years.
However, now with some repaired roads and many upcoming road and bridge projects, new issues have come to the forefront. The new issue now is the enforcement of road rules and re-education of road safety habits. It is high time to question how many of Nagaland’s drivers with government-issued licenses have actually undergone a driving course or have been tested on road rules and safety. Where are the speed limit signs? What steps are the government and traffic patrollers taking to ensure that road laws are enforced? What steps are educational institutions and general public taking to educate oneself on awareness and knowledge of traffic environment? Are we aware of the appropriate skills necessary for safe use of road environment as well as the survival skills required in case of accidents? Research shows that human error plays a major role in road accidents; it is a contributory factor in about 95 percent of accidents. By teaching the basics of road safety and ensuring stricter enforcement of road rules, we can ensure safer road environment for not only today but in hope and anticipation of tomorrow’s renewed and renovated roads.