Even as potholes have begun making an appearance on several roads across the city, contractors have quoted abysmally low prices to fill trenches dug on the roads. With low prices translating into low quality of work more often than not, your ride seems set to get bumpier this monsoon.
Short-listed contractors across the city have bid as low as between 35% and 45% below the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) estimate of the work. These contractors will be in charge of filling up pits dug by civic departments on an emergency basis and even those dug by private utility companies occasionally.
The financial packets of the tenders for these contracts were opened on Saturday. The BMC will pay Rs. 140 crore to these contractors over the next two years, with Rs. 20 crore for each contractor. This comes after the 24 contractors, who were supposed to fill trenches for two years starting April 2012 for Rs. 120 crore exhausted the funds within just eight months.
Following this, the BMC was forced to float a new set of tenders for the same purpose, but this time it decided to appoint seven contractors instead of 24, with one for each zone.
What makes the contractors’ low bids more startling is the fact that the estimate prepared by the BMC is already way below the market rate — the estimate is based on the schedule rates in 2009.
Poor quality of trench-filling job has been always been a major impediment to smooth roads. HT had in December reported how a shoddy job by these contractors had damaged 47 of the 147 newly re-laid roads within months, according to an internal report.
Chief engineer of the roads department, DR Dikshit, said: “The contractors will basically fill the trenches which have been dug up by any of these utility companies and which haven’t been filled satisfactorily. They will also be filling trenches which have been dug in emergency circumstances.”
He added that the contractors may possibly be finalised by the beginning of July.
Samajwadi Party leader in the BMC, Rais Shaikh, said: “It is not possible to do a satisfactory job of filling trenches at such low rates. The BMC needs to revise its schedule rates and also keep strict vigil on the work.”