We Dig It, You Fix It! An Attitude of Road Construction Workers
Mangaluru: If you drive, ride or walk around the city, you’ll come across many roads which have been dug up for laying cables or constructing new drainage/manholes-but none of these dug up roads are being fixed or tared once the work of the road construction contractors and workers is done. Just look at the Arya Samaj Road in the City-it’s a road where digging never stops, seems like every month this road is dug up some reason or the other. The once beautifully laid interlocked road is in shambles, and no MCC authorities have come forward to fix it. Tax payers money has gone down the drain. There are many other roads in the city which wore apathetic look after the road costruction workers have left it in a mess, for example the Kadri Temple Road from Mallikatta, Kadri Kambla Road and many others.
It’s all dust, smoke and bad roads for pedestrians and motorists. With roads and footpaths dug up, people are left with no space to walk, whenever a road project starts. Is there a solution? With constant digging up on many roads in the city, they have turned the area into a war-zone. Footpaths are broken, construction debris scattered here and there, pedestrians have to endlessly battle bulldozers, open drains and ditches, cement blocks and stones, no street lights (thus absolute darkness in the night) and a never-ending stream of heavy vehicular traffic, day and night.
At many areas, footpaths have been dug leaving no space for pedestrians to walk, and many roads dug up and filled back with mud, but not tared or concretized have left the motorists frustrated driving or riding on these dilapidated roads. With all the mess on these incomplete roads, vehicle drivers frustrated by long delays flout traffic discipline exposing school-going children, senior citizens, differently-abled, women with infants, and pregnant women to near-death experiences almost all the time. Authorities remain blind to the conditions that expose us to such high risk – including a threat to our lives. Such mega projects have no provisions and safeguards. Safe passages and pathways with clear signage don’t exist, and there is no priority for non-motorised traffic, to ensure everyone can walk, drive or ride safely.
In addition to handling heavy passenger vehicular traffic at all times, many of our city roads witness movement of heavy construction equipment and machinery. This is because, besides the construction of the road, drainage etc, massive high-rises are coming up in anticipation of “better infrastructure”. These construction projects do not take into consideration the pedestrians and non-motorised transport. There is an endless stream of soil, sand, cement mixers and trucks constantly plying on the roads. All equipment are moved around so carelessly that these roads are veritable nightmare for pedestrians and motorists – especially two wheeler riders. Dust levels are intolerably high leaving the local population perpetually coughing and sneezing and running to pharmacies for quick remedies. Yet nothing at all is being done to contain the dust and ensure that construction activities are regulated per norms. It should have occurred to MCC, the planners and executioners of all these road projects that they are also a major thoroughfare for students, residents and office goers. Leaving mud filled roads without being tared or concretized are safety hazards for motorists and pedestrians.
It is a shame that such prodigious engineering projects of road expansions, construction of drainages, manholes etc etc. have absolutely no conception or comprehension of the simple needs of pedestrians, cyclists, etc. It is as though the decision makers and the contractors have no family member who walks or probably do not care for their lives! The least that implementers of such projects can do is to ensure these construction zones are forced to become “low speed zones” with simple traffic-calming methods and without any excuse ensure there are clear and safe pathways for pedestrians. This does not cost anything, but demonstrates a quality of humaneness rarely evident today in public project development. Such simple and required methods would be the most significant step in improving pedestrian and motorists safety. They would also create sufficient spatial separation between pedestrian and traffic movements and regulate driver/rider behavior. A simple rule to remember is that the pedestrian has a greater right to safe passage than a motorist, and this should inform project planners that pedestrian pathways cannot be taken for granted, just as they do not take for granted the right of a motorist to move.
When there is a pit dug right in the middle of a road, life gets a little difficult for commuters. But what if the pit is not filled properly after the work is completed? At such times, it will be hazardous for the motorists. The problem is that no one seems interested in flattening the road. With all the debris left behind and also that the dug up places are not restored properly, it seems quite dangerous for motorists and pedestrians to commute. We all know that Mangalureans are quite reluctant in lodging complaints-that’s a reason we have so many civic problems that are not rectified, until it leads to a serious issue, like a serious injury or death. Wake up folks, complain to the concerned authorities if you notice something hazardous to human life. Let’s all join hands and to make Mangaluru a safer place to move around and live safely. Only our constant complaints and pressure on our elected Netas/officials can solve the problems. If we keep quite, we are putting our own lives in danger moving around in the flunked “Smart City”?