Mangaluru: Every month or so we see huge hoardings with images of local leaders announcing the construction of new concrete road in that area- I have no problem with that. But what about the existing dilapidated and potholed roads that are a big nuisance, hazardous and cause lots of inconveniences to motorists and pedestrians. Just look at the road stretch near Jimmy’s Super Market-Kadri all the way to Nanthur; also look at the pathetic condition of road stretch near Chitra Talkies-Alake Road- and there are many such dilapidated roads with potholes all over the city. Few days ago to satisfy and please the motorists and citizens some patch work was done by the MCC, and already the tar has worn out, and jelly stones have loosened and scattered all over. Seems like this City with smart people is ruined by dumb systems/plans of misaligned power and responsibility.
It happens again and again and again. Heavy rains and heavy traffic have scarred local streets and the potholes pop up — and this has formed a worse-case scenario for repair crews who are struggling to find and fix all the emerging potholes. But are they doing the job right. I don’t think so. Throwing some loose stuff in a hole and just hoping the traffic driving over it will fix it, will not serve the purpose. The evidence now says otherwise. I think the only way to solve the current pothole mess is to lay a two-layered concrete road with a seal coat but the problem is, our authorities I bet are busy playing blame games.
Driving on Mangaluru streets, and for that matter, even on outskirts of the City, is like an obstacle course. Drivers keep swerving and maneuvering to make sure they miss every pothole. These potholes have also worsened the chronic traffic jams which Mangaloreans face everyday, apart from driving through Alake Road, other potholed surfaces are some streets in Bunder area, Bibi Alabi Rd, Nanthoor junction Rd etc etc. Anyone who has had the misfortune of commuting on these streets will testify what a great pain the ride is – literally – owing to the numerous potholes that punctuate the road. I bet a ride on this stretch is akin to a ride on a ‘ camel’s ‘ back- just bumpy!
Experts say repairing roads and filling potholes have been fine-tuned into an annual money-making exercise. It is a telling testimony of the quality of our workmanship that potholes appear every year necessitating relaying or re-asphalting of roads. It has almost turned into an annual exercise that is a drain on the exchequer. Experts argue that the shortcoming is not in technology, but a deliberate attempt by the unholy nexus of municipal authorities and contractors to generate works every year, with the aim of siphoning taxpayers’ money.
Though it is imperative that service providers like Mescom and telecom operators are to be provided access to lay their cables, most often even newly re-laid roads are routinely dug up and not restored. Even when a road is restored, it is often only closed with concrete and a layer of asphalt; standards of road engineering are not followed. ‘The technology is there, but not the will’- The problem with the city roads, as I see it, is not a technical issue, but of governance. Road works have turned into an annual cycle. If a road is re-laid scientifically, I see no reason for it to be disturbed for at least five years.
It is not for want of technical know-how that our roads are not laid properly. It is a deliberate attempt to create civic works. Outrage about potholes is seen as an opportunity to seek funds from the State government. This is having a huge economic impact on honest taxpayers in more ways than one. The cost of works being carried out repeatedly, cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance, and health of motorists. As long as cheap quality tar is being used and layered too thinly, we will continue to have these problems every year. It’s an obvious pattern and I wonder why nobody is looking into this, or better yet, our city officials should visit other metropolitan cities in India or other countries and see how they are coping with this matter. Without any delay, MCC should undertake a major exercise to refurbish City’s potholes. instead of fixing some of the worst bad main roads, our authorities are concretizing inner and side roads- are these officials hooked on stupidity or what? Really not a Smart idea!
Potholes aren’t just a nuisance for drivers; they also constitute dangerous safety hazards that can produce substantial damage to vehicles, force drivers to veer suddenly in traffic, or even cause the driver to lose control of a vehicle after contact. The gaping streets can also damage a car’s alignment and suspension system. The city crews should take quick action to fix the potholes before they get deep and worse — thereby avoiding severe driving hazards and vehicle damages. So, while waiting for these roads to be restored for a smooth ride, just brace yourself because it’s once again pothole season here.
The actual work is done by contractors chosen by method of closed bidding. Contracts are awarded based on (hold your breath here) material used. Not work definition, not benefit to the citizen but amount of material used. If you see unnecessary pillars, metal used to build something you know why. Also starting a project ensures all corresponding bribes are paid and once started we haven’t seen anything stopped though a lot delayed so its a matter of time for the contractor. Also, though I don’t know this, the quality of construction/work done by an agency is not a factor that goes through much scrutiny. Many potholes are fixed every year sometimes more than once a year and yet they fall apart very quickly and demand rework which is not covered by the original contract
In conclusion. Why can’t an economically thriving city get its roads right? What is stopping the authorities from getting work done? Is it pure laziness or is there an undercurrent of other not so obvious reasons? How can it be fixed-We need to fix responsibility and adhere to a preset framework. We need to evolve a better system than what is in place now because there are too many people involved. Too much bureaucracy is a bad thing. It slows down the decision making process, increases corruption and nepotism and thus slows down the work. At the end, the citizens suffer. If we are really looking in transforming Mangaluru into a “Smart City”, we need “Smart” officials who can plan well and do the things right-if not Mangaluru will remain as “Dumb City” and not a “Smart City?”