Sunday, July 25, 2021

Dilapidated roads

Roads are the most vital component of infrastructure and important measure of growth and development of a society. Better roads represent the real health of a nation and the pace of its development. In modern times with rapid modernization of the transport system, the importance of roads, particularly the improved and safe roads becomes essential. During the last more than a decade, the road network in the whole subcontinent has improved significantly. Indian roads have entered into a new era of transformation and expansion. By its standards and importance, Nagaland also got its share. However, it is sad that we have one of the worst roads in the country. Our roads relate a story of despair, destruction, and negligence. A longer than usual spell of monsoon exposes the working mechanism, technology and above all the integrity of our works department. The present pathetic condition of our roads, especially the roads in the two main towns of the State – Kohima and Dimapur – speak volumes about our outdated technology of road laying and the capability of the engineering department and the engineers in particular. No one should take these hard facts otherwise. We have to accept we are using outdated technology that too through raw hands. And this is not a blame game but failure of the whole system of infrastructure development and maintenance. Today most roads are in a shabby shape with potholes in the middle of the roads and the footpaths proving to be major hazard to the life and property of the people. Despite the fact that the State Government issued orders for carrying out urgent repairs immediately after the PDA coalition Government took over the helm of affairs, there appears to be no improvement in road condition. And now with monsoon staring at us, the road condition across the State is heading for further deterioration. Dilapidated roads across the State, even on the main thoroughfares, have proved to be major hurdles for the smooth flow of vehicular traffic as well as the pedestrians, who have to pass through these areas for various purposes. A simple walk or ride through streets in State capital Kohima will reveal the failing health of our roads. The zigzag walks and rollercoaster rides make you feel as if you are deep into the African jungles with concrete flora and metallic fauna. These roads seem no better than primitive mired pathways of ancient times with muddy potholes, scattering sludge and changing gradients with every travel that blatantly splash shame on our face. Fascinatingly, a birds-eye view will reveal the naughtiness of the classical dance of vehicles and pedestrians on these roads while eluding the potholes. And this dance ends either as worst traffic jams or fatal accidents. The exploding sludge from the exposed roads have by now clogged the adjoining drains, and accumulated rain-water aggravate the festering potholes with more severity. If one can recall, the roads in Kohima were repaired in October-November last year before the Hornbill Festival. So it is quite surprising how within a few months the situation became bad to worst instead of improving? The responsible authorities have to be answerable! Obviously, and rightfully the stakeholders will refute these observations and cover up the matter in the technical nitty-gritty. The need is for the administration to introspect and evaluate the data of spending on all road projects during the last financial year in accordance with the contractual obligations as envisaged in the tendering procedure and fix the responsibilities accordingly. Every project has to be assessed in light of the previous physical and financial achievements to maintain the highest standards of technical and financial accountability. The present pitiful roads provide a better opportunity to set a trend of honest and justifiable accountability in works particularly the road laying. Otherwise even after spending crores and possessing a huge team of technocrats, our infrastructure development progress will get stalled, and instead of running highly mechanized locomotives on roads we may have to bank upon the nineteenth-century bullock carts. The sooner we change the technology, introduce the highest levels of accountability and completely revamp the works department better it will be for our progress and development.