Accident-prone: Duncan Basti stretch of NH 29

Imkong Walling 
Dimapur | July 12 

The stretch of road that cuts through Duncan Basti between the DC Court Junction and SM College (and a little beyond) can perhaps be classified - a treacherous thoroughfare prone to vehicular mishaps. One may browse through the news reports of road mishaps published over the years or can simply recall from memory. Blame it on reckless driving or wanton disregard for safety (or from a local metaphysical point of view – evil spirits at work), this seemingly picture perfect stretch of road has witnessed several vehicular accidents claiming precious lives, and not to mention the injuries caused.

Here is a list of some mishaps over the past two-three years, in this stretch, which deserves mention. In one particular incident in 2009, the situation nearly turned into a riot when a police truck rammed onto an autorickshaw carrying students, returning home from school. In the aftermath, a policeman was also wounded on the head caused by a flying projectile. In 2010, a speeding police gypsy rammed onto a telephone post just outside SM College. The occupants suspected to be in an inebriated state were seriously injured. Alcohol was also recovered from the vehicle. The same year, a government vehicle attached to a sitting parliamentary secretary collided with another vehicle at the same stretch of road. One person was injured in that accident. 

This year alone, the same stretch of road has been witness to a number of vehicular mishaps. About a month back, a police gypsy hit a young girl causing injury. It was a hit and run case but the driver surrendered to police later. And more recently, two precious lives were lost when an unidentified vehicle rammed four pedestrians. A few months earlier, this year, a young life was cut short in a fatal collision between a scooter and a vehicle belonging to a high-profile bureaucrat. The person riding the scooter died. (Some would disagree, why only accidents related to government vehicles are mentioned here. Well, by and large, the human mind is somewhat conditioned to recall and remember only high-profile incidents.

It is debatable nevertheless; it is not that privately owned vehicles are not guilty of mishaps in that stretch of road) 
Oddly enough, this stretch of road is so well maintained and wide tempting drivers to speed. This might be counted as one of the reasons for the high number of accidents. Another reason given is that the road has a slight curve, which drivers say is deceiving to the naked eyes. 

Further, the width of the road narrows and curves as it reaches SM College.   

That aside, we cannot stop road mishaps totally; yet one can, at the least - prevent. In an age where everybody seems to be in a hurry, the question now is ‘how do we go about preventing accidents from occurring?’ The number one solution which instantly comes to mind is ‘sane driving’ or in other words putting a strict check on drunk driving. But that also appears to have utterly failed.       

Other options include – maintaining a certain speed limit, installing road signs, installing speed breakers, creating a divider, and putting in place reflective road markers. 

The first option seems irrelevant in a town where good road is a scarcity. “If all the drivers can maintain speed limit, it’ll help a lot… (On the other hand) maintaining that is useless, we don’t have good roads,” commented a police officer. And VIP vehicles seldom follow this rule. The second option is also ineffective for reasons only known to the people here. The third option seems better but the road of the matter here is but a National Highway; while, the fourth alternative sounds not feasible enough for such a short stretch of road and which will only eat away on the span of the road. 

In such a stage, installing reflective road markers seems to be the only viable option. This, it was learned, is germinating and likely to take shape. The idea is to install the fluorescent devices across the width of the road at regular intervals. The district administration has already ordered the installation of the markers and has identified some vulnerable areas, it was learned. The stretch between 6th and 7th Mile and the 3rd Mile stretch were some of the other spots identified.     

All said and done, cautious and focused driving and more importantly concern for other vehicles and pedestrians on the road, though remains the chief safety measure.