If you regularly use one of the city’s numerous old bridges, you are risking life and limb.
They have not been maintained since five months, because the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not appointed consultants and contractors to get the job done.
So Mumbai’s 253 bridges, flyovers, foot overbridges and subways are not being monitored for safety.
“Nearly 58 such bridges, if ignored, could throw Mumbai’s traffic out of gear in a repeat of Friday’s Thane incident,” said N.V. Merani, who chairs the Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), which made recommendations on the maintenance of bridges in October 2007.
Contractors are hired for resurfacing and other road repair work, while consultants inspect bridges and suggest the nature of repairs.
“The BMC is currently handicapped as it does not have a separate bridge department. Instead of depending on contractors and consultants, they should have their own core group of trained officers,” said Merani.
“The STAC report also pointed out gaps in coordination with the railways. “For instance, the BMC finished its end of repair work on Kennedy Bridge a few years ago, but the railways have not done their portion of the work,” Merani added.
Here’s how it came to this stage.
The BMC’s Roads, Traffic and Bridges department gave the standing committee its proposal to hire bridge contractors and consultants for repair work. The proposal allocated Rs 9 crore for the island city, and Rs 7 crore each for the western and eastern suburbs.
However, the proposal also said those budgets could rise since the amount of work could not be forecast, and said the BMC would be bound to bear the additional expenditure.
The standing committee didn’t like that condition, and rejected the proposal. The Assembly election code of conduct delayed the process further.
“The earlier contract has expired but if there are any urgent repairs needed, we will get them done on our own,” said S.V. Joshi, chief engineer, Roads, Traffic and Bridges department.