Sunday, July 25, 2021

Road connectivity

Editorial 2

It is a fact that modern means of connectivity and a search for easy and safe routes have changed the way we travel and reach our destinations. In Nagaland, it can be said that we have a fairly good network of roads. But we are connected through single routes and those roads are mostly vulnerable to vagaries of weather. That is the reason travel across our state remains a problem, particularly in harsh weather conditions. The rate of accidents is also very high on some of these roads. The news about fatal accidents on these roads is always an expected thing. Further, some parts of the state remain closed for months together during monsoon and people in some areas remain cut off from the rest of the world. One can only imagine the level of difficulties they must be facing. We know that throughout the world road connectivity assume major importance as the prosperity of a nation is linked to it. Sadly in the absence of proper roads, our state’s economic potential has either remained untapped or gone waste. In fact our state has been rightly described as a region in a classic ‘backwardness trap’ of low economic activity, low employment and low-income generation. With its unique historical, institutional and political factors, Nagaland is confronted with some unique economic disadvantages arising mostly out of its poor road connectivity. It may sound unusual, but it is a fact there are some areas in the state surrounded by high mountains, virtually inaccessible with vehicular traffic unknown in the villages. This poor connectivity has never brought our state out of its remoteness. We have our own stories of good, bad and no roads. The number of vehicles plying is too high on the available roads. Even there is huge disparity in road density across all districts in the state. And our national highway connecting Dimapur and Kohima is a constant reminder of the fate of roads we have been experiencing from generation to generation. Even minor vagaries of weather keeps this major road link closed for days together. Clearly it is time the government place special focus on maintenance of roads, since we need good connectivity throughout the year. A well-connected, well maintained road network would spur economic activities here, as movement of people from places to places will be swift, it will automatically lead to utilization of maximum time for growth generating initiatives. Here we are aware that each year our government sets some targets for development activities. And one routine activity is the laying of new roads, repairing damaged roads, and blacktopping road surface. This year also when the festive season approaches, the government is likely to start blacktopping a certain length of roads; and this is always required in the state given the effect of weathering on our roads. For past some time we have seen that the work in this area of development went very slow. In our state blacktopping of roads is a seasonal activity, so to say. It cannot be done during monsoon, which means almost half the year, if not more. So we are left with only some months to do it, and that means the pace of work should be doubled, at the least. For that to happen the simplest way is to work in multiple shifts. Besides the speed of work, there are other question marks in this area of development. For instance, in the areas where water logging happens frequently why alternative surfaces material is not used? We have now an example of road patch in certain parts of the Purana Bazar-Chumukedima 4-lane road that has been concretized. Elsewhere also, in India and abroad, we have many places where roads are made of alternative materials, and that has been a successful experiment. Why can’t this be the case here? Why is it that every year we have to blacktop our roads? Is there something wrong with the quality of material used for blacktopping? If that is the case why aren’t the people responsible for this being dealt with severely under law?