Sunday, May 9, 2021

Deadly roads

Death of 4 persons and injuries to 10 others in a road accident near Zuketsa under Pfutsero Sub-Division of Phek District a week back (Oct 8) is both unfortunate and tragic. The precious lives of the passengers were lost and many others were injured for no fault of theirs. In fact, it speaks of the roads conditions that are deadly for the daily commuters, who are forced to travel in over-crowded and over-loaded vehicles, in this instance a Bolero Pick Up, in the absence of availability of adequate public transport of the State. It is a fact that bad roads and our negligence cause road accidents costing the life and limbs of fellow commuters. The number of accidents in our semblance of what constitute roads is high, although majority of them go unreported. With the festive season and mixing spirit with driving, the number of road accidents and deaths will rise, as is the case every year. God knows how much more will be swallowed by these deadly driving machines and rash driving until sanity dawns on us. It is also true that our traffic system is not in good and sound shape. Mainly four reasons are squarely responsible for gridlocks and never-ending accidents on roads. The constant increase of all sort of vehicles and two-wheelers, ever squeezing roads and encroachments; thoughtless driving and half hearted law enforcing agencies make our life miserable on road. If we go through the data regarding the increase in the number of vehicles during the last two decades the results are amazingly disproportionate. In a State where two decades back only several thousand vehicles were running on the roads, the number has now astonishingly grown to hundreds of thousands. Enhanced power and pickup in modern automobiles should have been an added feature for efficiency, but our thoughtless driving attitude combined with increased levels of adrenalin particularly among younger generation has made things deadly. Vehicles and bikes are meant for transportation, and comfort but most of the times many of us by indulging in over speeding, reckless driving and conceited behaviour on roads make things worse. Off late a new menace of attending and making phone calls while driving has added to increased chances of fatal accidents on roads. Under these situations, the most vulnerable are the pedestrians and people riding two-wheelers. Rowdy young bikers and unruly speeding heavy vehicle drivers are the worst lots on our roads. They often indulge in road rage and many times, try to bully not only the fellow drivers on the road but indulge in arguments with law enforcing agencies. For the last few decades most of the roads in the State have been upgraded and several new highway projects commissioned. In several areas, some old roads have been substantially widened but the unending encroachments, violation of building laws and the menace of roadside vendors not only choke the roads but significantly contribute to traffic accidents. Wrong parking of vehicles within the city/town center, residential areas, and highways lead to deadly traffic collisions resulting in fatal injuries and casualties. A routine drive on Dimapur/Kohima or on any other highway in the State during off hours will give you the real picture of wrong parking of heavy vehicles on these busy and vital traffic lifelines. Several cases of accidents due to bumping into unmarked bumpy speed breakers are known to us but this wilful negligence on part of our road managers has not been rectified even today on many roads. The worst part of this whole traffic scenario is the ill-conceived traffic management policy and poor implementation of traffic rules. No doubt the traffic management authorities run their show with bare minimum infrastructure and are short of trained manpower, but they cannot shy away from their own administrative and technical flaws in their system. A large number of our traffic cops are either not well trained or they wilfully indulge in non-seriousness otherwise why should almost all public transport system resort to gross traffic violations with all impunity. The other issue that gives an insight of our traffic managers is their high levels of alertness only when some VIP is around otherwise they prefer to be in acute slumber. Time has come that the death and destruction on roads should open our eyes and mellow our hardened hearts so that we behave as responsible citizens, calm drivers and alert pedestrians in the best interest of our own life and particularly our young generation.