Driving in the dark

Imlisanen Jamir

The frequent outages of streetlights on the NH-29 four-lane road from Dimapur's Purana Bazaar-Chümoukedima stretch is not just a minor inconvenience, it is a serious public safety hazard. Without proper lighting, it becomes much more difficult for drivers to navigate at night and see potential hazards on the road, such as animals or debris.

The highway is a vital artery for not just the state, but also for neighboring states. Streetlights were installed along the whole stretch of the four-lane; however the stretch is now plagued by frequent outages of these streetlights, making it a dark and dangerous stretch to travel on. The outages have become more visible in the last few months, particularly on one-half of the highway from Purana Bazaar to 4 Mile (Diphupar) junction.

 Accordingly, several drivers have complained of poor visibility and lurking fear of accidents while driving at night. The situation is so dire that several drivers have reported difficulty in even seeing the road ahead, let alone any potential hazards on the road, such as animals or debris. This has led to an increase in accidents and near-misses on the stretch, putting the lives of drivers and other road users at risk.

Furthermore, the lack of lighting can also create an inviting environment for criminal activity, such as theft or vandalism. This not only affects the safety of travelers, but it can also negatively impact the local communities that rely on the highway for commerce and transportation.
The stretch has been a site where accidents have periodically occurred since the completion of the four-lane road. The most common culprits of accidents as per the Dimapur Police are over-speeding, drunk driving and driving on the wrong lane. The period from 6-9 pm is the most ‘lethal’ hours, followed closely by 9 pm-12 midnight.

 The question on everyone's minds is, where does the buck stop? It seems to be stopping nowhere as the concerned departments - Public Works Department (PWD)-NH and the Power Department - are passing the buck when questioned about the reason behind the inoperative use of the street lights and frequent outages, as is evident by a report that was published recently in this paper.

The safety of the public should be of utmost priority, and the authorities must not let bureaucratic red tape and a lack of coordination stand in the way of resolving this issue.

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