An afternoon in Dimapur: A scooter and an autoricksha collide mildly. The drivers are furious. As the dust settles, they unmount their vehicles. Passersby, their eyes squinting, hold shirts and hankies to their noses as they halt to witness the fight to unfold. Who will blame whom? Who will get away with compensation ten times the damage? Stirring questions save the afternoon from its unjust humidity.
The drivers approach each other.
“Eku na hoi; rasta biya asse,” they agree, to the shock of their audience. It doesn’t matter; the road is bad. They move on. Passersby can eat dust. A fight will have to wait for better roads. An afternoon dampened still by the prospect of peace; created by the road craters of Dimapur.
The commercial capital—the hub that keeps Nagaland’s economics afloat—is in a sorry state. A bridge has collapsed. Another is on its way there. One has been out of order for a while. Others are far from safe. Few roads, like Church Road, Dhobinalla junction to ADC court junction and Signal road, remain the last bastions of uniform road travel for Nagaland’s citizens.
People walk across a wood-rope bridge on a river. In the meantime, those responsible for taking care of the existing infrastructure invest their wealth in mining stone from the river underneath, making their important contribution to the floods.
Some of this stone, perhaps, makes it to the craters of Dimapur. With the money left from cuts and commissions that leaders (at every stage of governance) take from the road repair works, only some sand remains, mined from another river, perhaps, to splash over the stone. The funds will be shown as ‘utilised’ and the roads ‘constructed.’
In two months, paragraph one will unfold once more. Peace shall reign.
The attitude of the Government in Nagaland, as well as its counterpart in New Delhi, towards the people of Nagaland is dismal. It has long hindered the economic progress of the region. It has allowed for the physical and racial segregation of the people. It has kept political conflict alive.
In June this year, a Road Safety program was held in Dimapur as part of an awareness plan that began in December 2016. Its theme noted that it is ‘time for action’. While it is all too well to expect decent driving skills and adherence to traffic rules (if any exist in the State) by ‘civilians’, it is the foremost responsibility of the State authorities to provide roads which allow for traffic and driving rules to be applied on.
More than the people, it is time for the government to take action. Legitimate action, not just the kind that clubs sand and stone together in the name of roads; for far too long, this has led to fatal or maiming accidents, respiratory disorders, loss of wage time, loss of educational time, needless expenditure on vehicles and more. If the State refuses to adhere to its duties, it is time for citizens to take legal action against the Government for negligence of the health, safety and wellbeing of the State and its citizens.
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