Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Road connectivity

It is said that time is money. In fact, everything revolves around time. Those who make best use of time, emerge as successful in all respects in the journey of life. And those who don’t show respect to time are lost in oblivion. When we look at the relation of time with our people, we observe a huge gap between the two. We have been unable to make most out of the time available with us and most of the time we have found ourselves short of time. In other words the usage of time for progress and prosperity here has not been effective as we have usually failed to capitalize on the bounties of time. There are many factors, which have resulted in wastage of time. Let us pick road connectivity, which is in shambles for decades and continues as one of the major impediments to achieve desired economic growth. We have the kind of roads where small distances, which are normally covered in 20 minutes, take even two hours for commuters. It is a nightmare experience to travel on the shabby roads and people lose most of the working hours in travel. Be it urban, sub-urban or a rural locality, most of the roads available are in dilapidated condition resulting in wastage of productive hours. Nagaland can be described as a state in a classic ‘backwardness trap’ of low economic activity, low employment and low-income generation. With its unique historical, institutional and political factors, the state 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 virtually inaccessible with vehicular traffic unknown in the villages. This poor connectivity has never brought our state out of its remoteness. In technical terms, we have lower road density as compared to other states in the country. 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 the 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 years now. Clearly there is an urgent need to focus on roads and infrastructure that has been lagging behind for decades now. Such an initiative will definitely give impetus for opening the doors of progress to the people. There is also dire need to increase the road links between rural and urban areas, as well as between cities/towns in close proximity. This is extremely important if the benefits of development have to move beyond the limited confines of cities/towns to our vast hinterland; so that the people in far flung areas particularly those toiling class also become partners in progress. We have a precedence here that new works/projects are taken up in hand without completing the old projects and one of the things which mar the success of projects here is the poor quality of the constructional works and their completion not in time. The authorities have to have a close look at these issues. Emphasis should be on timely completion of such projects with quality works. Let us understand that smooth road connectivity between rural and urban centres will have far-reaching implications for poverty reduction as this will lead to improvement in income generating opportunities. The focus should be on connecting the growth centres to markets. The feeder roads should connect the growth centre with subdivisions and district headquarters and arterial road system or provide a link from one growth centre to another. Reviving rural Nagaland through a massive rural road connection and rehabilitation programme as part of the overall connectivity strategy will have a large payoff by way of peace dividends. At the same time, there is need to obtain data showing the number of vehicles plying on the roads. Alarming increase in vehicular traffic on roads needs to be captured to arrive at a perfect road connectivity and maintenance plan. In fact, such a data is imperative for any road upgradation. A statewide vehicle survey should be undertaken to understand the dynamics of the sector so that our roadways can gear up for the present as well as future demands.