Dr Asangba Tzudir
The history of roads in Nagaland traces back to the 1870’s when the first ever road was constructed from Golaghat to Dimapur spanning 90.12 Kilometers at a cost of Rs 4050. This was followed by roads to Kohima and then to Wokha. Nagas were part of the road construction since the beginning, and even today when the condition of roads becomes deplorable especially after monsoon showers, and with no hope for immediate road repairs and maintenance from the Government especially the various neglected parts of Nagaland, the general public are left with no option but to help themselves by engaging in road repairs.
The roads connecting villages are generally taken care of by the villagers. Almost every rainfall is a call to duty to repair roads or clear landslides, etc. The sight of people pushing and pulling vehicles stuck in the muddy roads or even elephants being engaged to pull out vehicle are not uncommon in Nagaland. Even the blacktopped roads, without hardly any timely maintenance goes from bad to worse. It is only after the entire blacktopped portion becomes riddled with potholes or completely washed off that repair comes and by which time it requires major repairs. Roads left only after soiling and which is also considered as a big deal has a validity only till the next rains waiting to be washed away. There are also roads which are at the mercy of General Assembly Elections.
Times have changed and while it is expected of the times to have proper roads enabling better and faster connectivity, Nagaland has gone backwards in time, and particularly in the urban areas, also aided by uncivilized and selfish acts have only added to the deplorable condition of roads today, and listing such acts only adds to the pain where it is difficult to comprehend a situation where years of education has miserably failed to inject sense and sensibilities into the human mind.
Drawing insights from history, the people have continued to be part of the roads repair and maintenance but from the perspective of quality roads, such efforts considering the amount of repairs required is very negligible. And therefore it is imperative for the government to have a proper road maintenance plan so that there is timely action considering the fact that even the cost of repairs, is very high let alone the cost of construction.
The road maintenance plan should address issues of resources generation and allocation, planning, implementation and execution. The condition of Roads mirrors not only the sorry state of affairs but attests to the fact of how civilized Nagaland is. Instead of progress there is regression and while the rest of the world talks about development, Nagaland continues to reel under the despondency of improper condition of roads. Roads are no longer a part of the development plan, but roads as a means to augment development. For now, Nagaland cannot talk about holistic development unless there are proper roads affording better connectivity.
Dr Asangba Tzudir writes a weekly guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org