Over 950 trucks carrying various consumer items, fertilizer, construction materials and medicines were stranded on National Highway 37 due to landslips and bad road conditions between Kumbirol and Barak in Tamenglong district.
Ranjit H., president of the Transporters and Drivers Council, said that the trucks have been stranded since Thursday morning. The officials of the state government and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) have still not informed the stranded drivers as to when the highway will be open.
Mr. Ranjit said trucks were taking three days instead of one to traverse the 222km highway stretch to Imphal due to bad road conditions. The situation has been aggravated by weak and wobbly bridges present on the stretch.
The BRO had blocked traffic along this highway for three days each on three occasions from August 12 to August 23 stating that the repair-work of the highway between Kumbirol and Barak would be carried out. However, when trucks were allowed to ply, most of them got stuck in the muddy road following heavy rains.
Mr. Ranjit alleged that instead of stones and other construction materials, roadside earth had been used to repair the stretch.
“National highways cannot be blocked on any ground. In future the BRO should carry out repairing works at one lane while allowing traffic in another lane. If this is not done, the transporters and Drivers Council shall take recourse to legal redress,” he warned.
The interruption in transportation has led to price hikes as well. Eggs are currently not available in Manipur, while the price of one kg of fish has shot up to Rs. 400. It may be recalled that in view of the large-scale extortions along National Highway 2 — which connects Assam with Manipur via Nagaland — the Transporters and Drivers Council has been asking its member drivers to avoid using it.
The Manipur government has been expressing its concern over the bad road conditions prevailing at Highway 37, urging the Union government to allow it to take over the highway’s maintenance works. Two Union Ministers had come to inspect the repair-works along this highway in the recent past.