Locals along the National Highway 29 at Khuzama under Kohima district of Nagaland on Wednesday Credit: EastMojo image

Kohima: Despite the Nagaland government’s preparedness to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state, the road blockade along the Nagaland-Manipur border by locals highlights ineffective sealing of inter-state borders as directed by the government. The Southern Angami Public Organization (SAPO) and Southern Angami Youth Organization (SAPO) on Wednesday temporarily blocked NH-29 near Khuzama police check gate, cutting off the Nagaland-Manipur link.

Irked by the state government’s ill-manning along the inter-state border, the local bodies blocked the roads for any vehicle to ply. Later in the evening, the blockade was lifted after the state administration assured to address the matter.

This development comes a day after deputy chief minister Y Patton directed all district administrations, particularly those sharing inter-state borders, to re-strengthen the sealing of the border. Speaking with EastMojo, Vimezhol Theyho, President SAPO said that the inter-state road was blocked around 12 noon on Wednesday by the local bodies since the government failed to control the movements at the border. He also pointed that no facilities and equipment were provided for executing screenings at the border.

The road blockade along NH29 highlights the negligence of the government’s order of sealing the inter-state borders.

He said that after the local exerted pressure on the government, medical staffs deployed on duty but were deprived of the protective equipment. Irked by the negligence of the government, the locals temporaily blocked the highway but later restored it after the administration assured to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) along with required equipment. The SDO Civil Jakhama, representing the administration also assured to inform the higher authorities to ensure precautionary measures along the border. Further, it also assured to control the unauthorized vehicles passing along the border.

Meanwhile Kekhrie Pfukha, president of the Angami Youth Organization (AYO), the apex youth body of the Angami tribe, added that without facilities and equipment, medical staffers were deployed to conduct screening at the border. Expressing concern, he said that medical attendants deployed on duty were not trained in COVID-19 preparedness and were allotted a temporary makeshift tent facility.

He noted that despite the government’s order to seal the border, implementation of the order was not carried out as movements along the border were not controlled, although police personal were deployed. Lauding the drive carried out by SAYO and SAPO, Pfukha said that the Youth body stands with the tribal bodies as the monitoring along the inter-state border is a common concern.

“The government is not at all prepared,” he said. With a report of a COVID-19 positive case in Manipur, he said that security of the citizens is at risk if the inter-state border is not properly manned and further questioned the lackadaisical approach of the state government. While the TB hospital at Khuzama village was identified as an isolation ward, facilities and equipment are reportedly not available at isolation centre.

The isolation ward identified at Khuzama.

In regard to Kohima town, he said that despite the government’s order of staying at home, individuals are seen violating it. He also highlighted the pathetic condition of the isolation ward identified by the government at TB hospital, Khuzama, with no equipment being set up until now. He stated that it had created panic among the citizens of Khuzama and the Southern Angamis. Saying that the state is a “close-knit” community, he added that effective preparedness to contain the spread of COVID-19 is the need of the hour.

Earlier, through a press note, AYO expressed that it was “extremely crucial” for sealing and “strictly manning the entry/exit points”, particularly the Khuzama check gate and the Chümukedima check gate. It appealed the district administration and police personnel to be vigilant and take preventive steps in order to let our people stay away from the deadly virus.

It also said that it was extremely troubled by the behaviour of “some irresponsible people” who choose to ignore the standing government order and are found loitering around, and in the process, endangering the lives of people and their own. It appealed all the residents of Kohima to heed to the restrictions imposed by the government till such time the order stands.

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