Powai resident Ravikiran Apte drives to his office in Sion every day. His commute, which ordinarily lasts no more than 20 minutes one way, has for the past few days swelled to an hour each way thanks to huge, daily traffic jams near Ramabai Nagar, Ghatkopar, on the Eastern Express Highway.
Apte said, “This has been happening for the past three or four days. There is a huge traffic jam at that spot because of potholes and repair work. This has become an annual story for the city.”
According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s official data, 2,413 potholes had been reported across Mumbai as of Monday, including 968 in the western suburbs, 628 in the eastern suburbs and 817 in south Mumbai. In just the past two weeks, 850 potholes were reported, the data show. And according to the civic body, only 164 of the 2,413 potholes are yet to be repaired.
However, the situation on the ground belies this. And while hellish monsoon commutes aren’t exactly new for citizens of Mumbai, the situation appears particularly grim this year. Things are so dire in some places that many office-goers have started to cut down on road travel or even avoid it altogether. Pravin Shetra, who commutes from Goregaon to Dadar, said he prefers to take the train back home to avoid the huge traffic jams on SV Road. “It is not feasible to waste so much time. It gets tiring. I take the train home to avoid traffic,” Shetra said.
Meanwhile, the BMC has been exploring alternative technologies to fix potholes. Last week, sample materials from three companies — AR Thermo, Shalimar and Eco Green — were used to fix potholes in the eastern suburbs, western suburbs and island city, respectively. However, additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh said that it will be another 10 days before the results of this trial are known. “We will get the impact assessment report within 10 days and only then can we decide what technology to use to fill potholes,” said Deshmukh.
The BMC wants to finalise the best method to fix potholes within two weeks as it has to submit a status report to the HC on August 20. Citizens and corporators, however, criticised the civic body for leaving it so late. Devendra Amberkar, a Congress corporator from Andheri, said, “The problem has worsened this year and the BMC is looking at solutions only now.”
HT on Monday found potholes on several arterial roads, including the WEH (Andheri to Borivali), SV Road (Andheri to Jogeshwari), Juhu circle, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (the Jogeshwari end), LBS Marg (Hiranandani hospital towards Ghatkopar), Eastern Express Highway (south-bound lanes near Ghaktkopar), Parel flyover (towards Sion) and King’s Circle flyover (towards Dadar).