Friday, December 09, 2022

Road Woes

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 16, 2021 10:58 pm

The recent total restriction of movement between the Chathe River Bridge and Khuokhi River Bridge along the National Highway-29 due to massive rockslides in the area has triggered public outrage. Civil society organisations are questioning the workmanship of the firm responsible for construction of the much-hyped four-lane project and even termed the blockade as man-made. The road blockade also attracted the attention of the governor, who after a meeting with the government and construction firm officials announced the partial opening of the highway to traffic. The outburst from the public is valid for more reasons than one. The ambitious four-lane road between Dimapur and Kohima was initiated in 2015 and was supposed to be completed within three years time but it is still yet to be completed. Instead, the public continues to face inconveniences with the authorities announcing blockade of a certain portion of the road at regular intervals, forcing the commuters to take a diversion that takes a much longer time besides having to endure bad road conditions. The rockslide earlier this month that left a few people injured and vehicles damaged was another nail in the coffin, forcing authorities to announce total restriction of movement for days together. It caused a number of inconveniences to commuters, disrupted supply of essential commodities to Kohima and beyond, and led to shortage of fuel. The economic loss caused by the frequent blockade of National Highway-29, which connects Nagaland’s commercial hub Dimapur with several districts of the state as well as neighbouring state Manipur, is huge. So, frequent restriction of movements along this lifeline is not only public harassment but also affects the economy severely.

The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), which has been entrusted to build the road, may have its own reasons like rough topography, inclement weather, and the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic for the delay in completion of the project. However, the stipulated time of three years to complete the project has long passed. What it needs to do now is to complete the project, especially the areas that are more prone to rockslides and landslides, with good workmanship and on time. The facts are that the unstable soil and rough terrains, over-steep slopes can cause instability problems for a road and invite disaster in the future besides increasing repair and maintenance costs. Thus, it is important that over-steep slopes should be avoided; retaining and breast walls should be constructed wherever required. While timely completion of the project and public convenience can’t be ignored, public safety is equally important. So, authorities should ensure that the road is safe for the public to travel and not just allow people to ply because of pressure from various quarters. Safety and quality shouldn’t be compromised at any cost. The NHIDCL should complete the much-delayed project before the monsoon sets in, or else all hell will break loose when the rainy season begins.  In the meantime, the government should construct or repair an alternative road on a war footing to avoid further inconvenience to the public.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 16, 2021 10:58:31 pm