In recognition of public service

M Kayina
Lerie Colony, Kohima

The conditions of road and the type of vehicles which stood the test of time in providing reliableservice in public transportand facilitating accessibility in Nagaland could be a subject of interest to many.While acknowledging the contribution of all vehicle, Maruti Suzuki Alto and Tata Sumo stands outamong them for its unparalleled reach and acceptance spanning across all strata of society and region for its service towards public transport.

MARUTI SUZUKI ALTO: ‘Alto’ is without doubt, an undisputed family car. Though oddly shaped, lacking in appeal and not known for safety, the car has garnered wide acceptance which is put to use as a daily use car, means of carriage for household and construction materials (to the extent of carrying wooden planks and logs), mode of travel to paddy fields, farms and as a Taxi. However, among all these, the most concentrated and visible transport of passenger by Alto car is through Zonal Taxi service plying between Dimapur and Kohima. Till date, no viable competitor has taken its place and it remains as the undisputed king in this sector. It remains a wonder, how passengers of all sizes with luggage could fit in and move with ease. It is inexplicable that in a road, ridden with potholes, falling rocks, slushy mud and unending and dangerous National Highway construction workswhere provision on safety of travellers seems to be missing from its rulebook; it remains unbeatable to this day. One can only mess with it, at its own risk. Adrenaline on the highway is further raised when the driver, at the wheel is ‘on a high’.

TATA SUMO: A vehicle that could not be missed out.It is unimaginable for inhabitants, especially from far flung rural areasto have lived a life with ease of access to town and cities without its service. It alone can take on roads where other vehicle fears to tread. A Tata Sumo, packed with passengers traversing through a muddy and slippery road in rainy season along the banks of Doyang in Zunheboto, or on its way to Nkio in Peren is a sight to behold. The sound of its engine, emanating like a mini truck seems to say; “I can take you wherever you want me to”. 

Though lacking in looks or appeal, its endearment to people of all age and sectors is remarkably felt and more so, in rural area. Besides transport sector, it forms part of Army and Police service (as armoured vehicle), religious and educational establishmentsand as a favoured car for Village Councils too.Its popularity is so invasive that even Passenger services in some sectors are known as ‘Sumo service’. Even its snobbish cousin, ‘Sumo Grand’ could not progress beyond being part of bomb disposal squad of Nagaland Police.

In acknowledging the immeasurable and revolutionary contribution towards public transport and facilitating ease of accessibility and reach to inaccessible places, it may be worth pondering, with a sense of appreciation; how, such unassuming cars, like Maruti Suzuki Alto and Tata Sumo, not known for its status symbol, have etched its name in our journey towards socio economic development.