Pothole Se Azadi! It’s Once Again POTHOLE SEASON in the So-Called ‘Smart City-Mangaluru’

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Pothole Se Azadi! It’s Once Again POTHOLE SEASON in the So-Called ‘Smart City-Mangaluru’

Mangaluru: Last year to draw the attention of those in the highest echelons of the country to the poor condition of the coastal city’s roads, Mangaluru-based entrepreneur Likhith Rai launched ‘Pothole Se Azadi’, before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Mangaluru. Rai’s campaign was aimed at highlighting the apathetic attitude of the civic authorities and local elected representatives for the premier’s benefit. Rai has appealed to citizens to send him photographs of potholes before they are hastily covered by the authorities.

“What the authorities will do will amount to nothing more than patchwork, which is bound to wear off in under 10 days. They will undertake this work only given Modi’s pending visit to Mangaluru. The authorities failed to fix roads despite many accidents being reported. This time, we will be vigilant. We will closely monitor the work that will be undertaken on the city’s roads. We must do this lest the authorities fool us again. It does appear as if the PM’s visit is of greater importance to the authorities than the loss of innocent lives,” Rai had said. It is with a grief-laden heart that Rai launched this campaign after his friend Ashish Y died while travelling by a two-wheeler on the road from Nanthoor Junction to Bikarnakatte on 5 August 2022.

This loss pushed Rai to take the lead in the campaign aimed at preventing such tragedies. The entrepreneur admitted to feeling exasperated with being repeatedly fobbed off by the authorities with the excuse of potholes being fixed at the end of the rainy season. “But when the rain stops, they claim that they are facing a shortage of tar. The poor condition of the roads is directly responsible for at least five to ten accidents, every day. We have enough technical know-how to understand that, if work is undertaken properly, the roads will last longer,” said Rai. Meanwhile, on social media, citizens are appealing to PM Modi to travel from Bengaluru to Mangaluru by road, so he can see the pathetic condition of the Shiradi Ghat Road for himself.

Potholes, after they were filled last monsoon, have Reappeared at the Nanthoor Junction

So it is July 2023, once again we are seeing craters/potholes after a few days of monsoon showers, just to wonder what would be the fate of the City roads during the whole monsoon season. And the fact, where Rai’s friend had died to avoid the pothole, in the same spot we are seeing once again a mega pothole, waiting to kill yet another two-wheeler rider. Is this how our elected representatives who were put into power by the voters, are concerned about the citizens? Surely not! Just look around the City, the City is laden with potholes after a few rain showers, imagine what the streets would be till the end of monsoon season.

Potholes are seen again near the Bendoorwell Junction

And the worst part is that the maga potholes appear over and over again each year at the same location, like Nanthhor junction, Bendoorwell Circle, and Bunder area, among other places. Even though we have summer, Monsoon and winter seasons, in Mangaluru we have a pothole season. Although it’s bad to drive on the main City streets, stricken with numerous potholes — similar problems have been experienced by Mangalureans driving on the side streets and lanes. It’s a treacherous time — It’s once again pothole season in Kudla. The City streets are decorated with potholes, and I bet between each mile there are chances that you’ll come across potholes. Mangaluru roads have started resembling the craters on the moon.

It happens again and again and again. Heavy rains, heavy traffic and alternating periods of weather have scarred local streets and the potholes pop up — and this has formed a worst-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 our MCC officials are busy playing blame games.

This pothole on Nanthoor- Bikarnakatte Road which killed a young bike rider trying to avoid it has reappeared again, to kill more Riders.

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. If not, I have a feeling that our city’s potholed scarred roads will entice manufacturers of such equipment to come to Mangaluru and demonstrate to the MCC officials that their machines are the best solution to their problem, like they are doing in other potholed cities.

Driving on Mangaluru streets and for that matter, even on the outskirts of the City, is like an obstacle course. Drivers keep swerving and manoeuvring to make sure they miss every pothole. These potholes have also worsened the chronic traffic jams which mangaloreans face every day, especially near Padua Road, Kavoor Junction, Bunder, Kankanady Pumpwell, Bikkarnakatta Junction, and many other places. Anyone who has had the misfortune of commuting on these roads 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!

Incessant rains and pothole-ridden roads have left many city streets choked over the past few days. Every commuter in the City has nursed the after-effects of juddering over the hundreds of potholes of all shapes and sizes. The civic authorities’ desultory efforts to fill them only result in these craters reappearing sooner rather than later. Sometimes it’s dangerous for vehicles to pull out of the potholes promptly, particularly at night. These potholes have become a nuisance for motorists. Even some of the roads with potholes leading to major hospitals have become a major obstacle for ambulances too.

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 deeper and worse — thereby avoiding severe driving hazards and vehicle damage.

So while waiting for these roads to be restored for a smooth ride, just brace yourself because it’s once again pothole season in Mangaluru. And for sure, the MCC authorities will not take any action, until a few two-wheelers get swallowed by some of these mega-potholes. Until then bear with the potholes or curse someone at the MCC— and still keep driving safely.

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