There is carnage in Dimapur’s roads. The traffic in the state’s commercial hub has always been atrocious. But the closing down of the Nagarjan Bridge in July this year, which was preceded by the closure of the Old Dhansiri Bridge, and the collapse of the iron girder bridge at 4th Mile, immensely compounded the problems.
As a result, this past year, drivers and commuters in Dimapur have had to display the patience of a saint and the skills of a world class off roader. And for those like me who traverse the NH 39 to Dimapur every day, we instinctively developed a feel for the road.
Almost throughout the day, the tailgate to tailgate traffic usually begins a few hundred meters before the Padum Pukhuri Junction and does not let up till we cross the ever swaying ‘New’ Dhansiri Bridge—now the only link between Dimapur Town and the rest of the state.
And over time, I felt like a member of a surreptitious circle of commuters, privy to a secret knowledge of the road. There was golden opening. It usually began at 1:30 pm and lasted till 3:30 pm, when the traffic seemed to miraculously thin out—the reason for which I am yet to decipher.
It was a thrill to set off to work, trying to make it past the stretch during that hallowed interval, and hope that the secret remained intact, lest everyone else figures it out. There was a sense of accomplishment if one could make it past the stretch without road rage.
But that golden opening is now closing.
Since mid-October, there has been no let-up in the traffic, regardless of what time one traverses that wretched stretch of craters.
It is nearly the time of year, when Dimapur starts buzzing, with people from all over the state flocking here. Even when the town had three working bridges, November end, and almost the whole of December has always been traffic madness for Dimapur.
The hope that drivers here will ever learn even a semblance of traffic civility is fast fading. Add to that the craters for roads, those sneaky auto rickshaws that always manage to find the tiniest of crevices; our always-in-a-hurry entourage of legislators, spearheaded by those nauseating escorts; plus those heedless military and para-military convoys; and we’ve got ourselves the perfect recipe for road rage.
When the problems first began this year, the Dimapur Traffic Police was seen to be proactive. It was a wonderful sight. Barricades were promptly put up and traffic cops were seen strictly enforcing lane discipline.
Also, when civil society, particularly the East Dimapur Sumi Students’ Union (EDSSU), took part in traffic management for a few weeks earlier this year, lane discipline was maintained and traffic flow improved remarkably.
While there are the odd days, when the same relentless enforcement of traffic rules is still visible, these have become too far between in recent days. The Dimapur Traffic Police needs to rediscover the enthusiasm it displayed earlier. A massive help would be the involvement of the civil society in Dimapur.
It is time for the administration, police and civil society of the town to put in a collective effort towards ensuring that traffic clogs don’t turn this holiday season to a commuter’s nightmare.
While we wait for our political overlords to deliver on those lofty promises concerning ‘approved road projects,’ if Dimapur manages to holistically synergise its agencies towards addressing the traffic issue, that would be a community achievement to be proud of.
Time for some self-aggrandisement here! To realise that this has been an editorial concerning Dimapur’s roads, without having once mentioned potholes; now that is an accomplishment indeed.
The writer is the Associate Editor at The Morung Express. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org