Deplorable NH-44: No respite for commuters

A loaded truck broke down in the middle of National Highway 44 near Sonapur in East Jaintia Hills, causing
heavy traffic jam for several hours on Tuesday. (Photo by Puson G Gympad)

JOWAI: The deplorable condition of National Highway 44 – the only road connectivity that links mainland India with the eastern part of Meghalaya, Barak Valley in Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura – has for a long time now remained a harrowing experience for helpless commuters.
Frequent disruption of vehicular movement, seasonal landslides and alarmingly high rates of tragic accidents that claims scores of lives, have become the order of the day, but so far none of the authorities responsible for the day-to-day upkeep of the arterial road have come to the rescue of the commuters.
The long stretch of the NH-44 from Sunapyrdi (Sonapur) village till Malidor is in its worst ever condition with vehicle breakdown all along the road becoming a daily trend, thereby causing heavy traffic jam for hours at a stretch.
The present road turns from its original shape into a muddy or dusty road, depending on whether it is sunny or rainy, and the commuters have no option but to travel through this long stretch of “jumpy bumpy” road full of potholes and boulders, at times risking their own life, while on other occasions, putting their lives and safety in the hands of the driver.
The bad road condition also poses tremendous dangers to pedestrians and villagers who live on either side of the highway. On many occasions, pedestrians have reportedly been injured with stone chips hitting them, as vehicles pass by.
The National Highway was handed over to the NHAI by the State PWD, which raised hopes among the commuters that their troubles would soon be over.
The NHAI has proposed to improve and upgrade the Highway to a double lane road and the work was allotted to Simplex Construction Limited. The Company was supposed to start the work by January 15 last, but even after two months, the work is yet to begin. The delay in construction of the double-road lane highway has also irked PWD Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar.
East Jaintia Hills Deputy Commissioner WR Lyngdoh recently wrote a letter to the Project Director of NHAI, PIU, Shillong, and informed him about the deteriorated condition of the NH-44.
“The condition of the NH-44 within this District is in a pathetic condition and has deteriorated from bad to worse. Commuters and commercial vehicles are facing lots of problem due to constant traffic jams and accidents due to the worsening condition of the road,” Lyngdoh stated in a letter sent to the NHAI Project Director.
According to the Deputy Commissioner, the road condition will also affect the smooth conduct of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
To ensure free and speedy movements of vehicles on election duty, the District chief has requested the NHAI Project Director to take immediate action to repair the road from Tuberkmaishnong till Malidor.