With 83 Potholes in Bandra Alone, How Can Mumbai Tackle Monsoon?
A hammer, a shovel, a scooter and a sack of asphalt is all we need in the fight against Mumbai’s ever-growing potholes. Heavy rains have already begun, delaying trains and clogging roads in the city. What is the state of our preparation? In the last week of June, we surveyed service roads running parallel to Bandra Western Express Highway, between Bandra east and Jogeshwari east.
We found at least 83 potholes and 19 sunken manholes in the area. Who is to take the responsibility of filling potholes and covering open manholes on either side of the highway?
Due to these potholes, vehicles get damaged, riders get disoriented and accidents become more common.
We chose the Western Express Highway because we felt that it is being neglected for about five years now. There is no proper maintenance of the roads. Moreover there are no contact numbers or a system to report them. Many incidents occur, but citizens don’t report such things.
Most complaints about potholes are left unattended by the municipal authorities.
There are a few reasons why.
First, there is always confusion regarding jurisdiction. Which civic body does the road come under? The BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), PWD (Public Works Department) or MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority)?
Even if residents call the relevant authorities, the excuses for delay/non-repair of potholes vary from vacancy of engineers, non-renewal of contracts, use of low quality tar, adulteration of repair material etc.
This is disappointing given the track record of the last few years. Every year lives are lost in the monsoon due to potholes.
So in April 2018, we stopped relying on the authorities. We packed some rocks from the road in a sack and started filling Mumbai’s potholes.
This was our solution, however temporary. Yet, there is only so much we can do. In April, before starting the survey, our scooter misbalanced on a Bandra road due to a pothole. This is how many people fall. In the monsoon, this problem is even worse because water accumulates into potholes and bikers are unable to judge the depth correctly, leading to accidents.
On 25 and 26 June, before the heavy rain began, we took a two-day independent survey to check all such manholes and potholes. From 2.30 pm to 7 pm on both days, we visited service roads on our Scooty and took note of the potholes along the way. This included the nearest pole number, the road name, and land marks if any.
After our survey, we shared the pictures with the a local newspaper, posted a few others on Facebook and Twitter. We tagged the local BMC handle.
Once the rain subsides, we will be conducting more such surveys in different parts of Mumbai. We will continue till the problem is not checked.
We just have a small message to the citizens: Take the initiative and make a little effort to report all such manholes, potholes, fallen trees, or any other road safety issue that can prove dangerous or fatal. We also request the authorities to resolve complaints quickly, and attend/respond to tweets and emails actively.
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