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Truckers call off indefinite strike

Jorhat, Oct. 26: The Hill Area Truck Owners Association called off its indefinite strike yesterday following a written assurance from the General Reserve Engineering Force, a division under the Border Roads Organisation, to repair the Mariani-Tuensang Road on a war footing.

Three districts of Nagaland — Mokokchung, Zunheboto and Tuensang — were staring at a shortage of essential commodities after truckers plying under the association decided to go ahead with the indefinite strike from October 17 in protest against the deteriorating road condition.

The truckers have also alleged constant harassment on this particular road by criminals, who demand money from truck drivers regularly and beat them up on slightest of excuses. Prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed in the districts following the strike forcing the business community and the district administrations of the three Nagaland districts to convince the truckers and the GREF to come to the negotiation table and find an amicable solution.

Sources said the strike was called off after a marathon meeting between the Mon-based commanding officer of the GREF, Sanjay Singh, and representatives of the truckers’ association in the bordering town of Mariani in Jorhat on Monday evening.

The condition of the Mariani-Tuensang Road deteriorated after the monsoon this year forcing the truckers, who supply essential commodities to the three districts of Nagaland from the wholesale market in the neighbouring Jorhat district in Assam, to call the strike.

At least 40 trucks ferry essential commodities from Jorhat to Nagaland daily.

The truckers alleged that some parts of the road had deteriorated so much that it had become too dangerous to drive through such portions, especially on a hilly road.

They alleged that despite several appeals to the GREF, there was no response whatsoever from the engineering force forcing them to take such a decision. The particular road is under Project Sewak, one of the oldest projects of the Border Roads Organisation, which was raised in July 1961 primarily for the development of four major roads in Nagaland. The project has its headquarters in Dimapur.

In the meeting held at Mariani, the commanding officer of the GREF had assured the delegation of truckers that the damaged road would be repaired on a war footing. He also informed the work programme for the current session, which includes special repairs on monsoon-damage portions, resurfacing of about a 40km stretch of the road, which will commence from the second week of November.

The GREF official attributed stone quarrying and coal mining activities taken up by the residents, which have led to disturbance on the soil leading to frequent landslides in certain areas of the road.

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