Perilous roads

Imlisanen Jamir

The past couple of weeks should serve as a reminder that commuters travelling the National Highway 2 between Dimapur and Kohima are doing so under constant danger. The incidents of the past weeks must also force the hand of government authorities to ensure that safety protocols are followed.

This month alone has seen three incidences of rockslides in the National Highway 2 at Chümoukedima. The first of these was when falling rubble damaged the Welcome Gate at Chümoukedima. After a week, this was followed by another rockslide damaging trucks which were involved in the construction works of the ongoing 4-lane project. And most recently, a family escaped tragedy when their car was crushed by falling boulders at the same stretch.

Fortunately, no one has been seriously injured in any of these incidents. But those numbers are probably of little comfort to the thousands of motorists that use the National Highway on a frequent basis.

Safety concerns were voiced in March, earlier this year when local civil society organizations informed the Dimapur district administration, particularly expressing concern at landmine explosion activities to clear rock formations.   

After the spate of these recent rockslides, the Tenyimi Youth Organization of Dimapur (TYOD) has once again expressed concern and alleged that the current situation is due to the construction company and district administration’s failure to heed to the organisation’s earlier safety warnings.

It had warned that carrying out landmine explosion besides the old road of the National Highway would result in blockage of the NH and further endanger the life of the commuters. It further accused the construction company/contractors of putting the public’s life at high risk, “just to save time and energy.”

The TYOD has demanded that the district administration conduct an enquiry and make the findings public, while demanding that the construction company also pay compensation to those whose property was damaged by the latest rockslides.  

Before a tragedy occurs, government authorities must take a thorough look at what can be done to prevent slides in this area and report back to the public on the best strategies to implement.

On September 20 the Dimapur district administration closed off the road for traffic in order to for highway restoration activities. Crews were seen breaking down the rubble, and after the debris is removed, work to repair the roadway itself will begin. But we hope the work will not stop there, because this stretch of highway deserves a comprehensive review and plan to stabilize the mountain side.

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