Non-functioning streetlights on NH- 29 Purana Bazaar-Chümoukedima stretch raise road safety concerns

Vehicles drives past unlit streetlights near Purana Bazaar. Non-functioning or outages of streetlights along the NH-29 Purana Bazaar-Chümoukedima stretch are raising various road-safety concerns. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express News 
Dimapur | January 17

The National Highway (NH)-29 four-lane road from Dimapur’s Purana Bazaar-Chümoukedima stretch witnesses constant stream of traffic every day.  Considered as a major lifeline for not just the state but of neighbouring states as well, goods-laden trucks, private and other commercial vehicles commute on the stretch even past midnight. 

Measuring a length of 17.30 kilometres according to government estimates, the stretch was virtually inaugurated by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways on December 5, 2020. 

Streetlights were also installed along the whole stretch of the four-lane highway (barring Darogapathar junction to ARTC stretch) for safety and security at night, bringing huge relief to the citizens. 

However, it was short-lived. After a brief honeymoon phase, the stretch is besieged by frequent outages of these streetlights. 
Such 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. 


Where does the buck stop then? It seems stopping nowhere as the concerned departments - Public Works Department (PWD)-NH and the Power Department - passing the buck when The Morung Express inquired to know the reason behind inoperative use of the street lights and frequent outages.

On its part, the Executive Engineer (EE) Of Dimapur Electrical Division, Akito Sema claimed that there was no official handing over process between the two departments concerned. 

The Engineer-in-Chief, Power Department had given instructions to coordinate a meeting with the PWD (NH) but no such event has taken place as of yet, he informed. 

Unless a proper Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is signed and agreed upon, the department would not want to take the responsibility, he added. 

When contacted, the SDO of PWD (NH), Dimapur Division, however, disagreed and maintained that the responsibility lies with the power department. 

It may be noted that the contractor - T.K. Engineering Consortium Pvt. Ltd is tasked with the responsibility of road maintenance post-completion bit it could not be ascertained whether the firm was also responsible for the up-keep of the streetlights as well, at the time of filing this report. 

In the meantime, 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.

Road accidents most common at night

National Highways (NHs) in Nagaland are accident hotspots, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total road accidents in the State, according to ‘Road Accidents in India – 2020’ released by the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) in last year. 

Based on the ‘Time of Occurrence’ of road accidents given in the report, the period from 6-9 pm is the most ‘lethal’ hours, followed closely by 9 pm-12 midnight.

Corroborating this, Rothihu Tetseo, the current DIG (Range) and former Commissioner of Police (CP) for Dimapur-Chümoukedima-Nuiland informed in an interview last November that most of the road accidents happen at night after 6 PM. 

“Because of poor lighting system, road accidents are extremely high in Dimapur,” he then stated, further noting that paved concrete surface of the four-lane road also hampers visibility.

In addition to over-speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving in the wrong lane further exacerbated the situation, he added.