A day in the life of a BMC road engineer | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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A day in the life of a BMC road engineer

In a small cubicle, under a humming ceiling fan, municipal road engineer Sandeep Gade peers at a sheet of paper, a tender to be floated in two months' time.

mumbai Updated: Jul 08, 2012 01:15 IST
Sindhu Mansukhani

In a small cubicle, under a humming ceiling fan, municipal road engineer Sandeep Gade peers at a sheet of paper, a tender to be floated in two months' time.

The room is quiet, the only sound the buzz of afternoon traffic wafting up from the street below. Until Gade's cellphone starts to ring shrilly.

"These phones are irritating in the middle of paperwork, and I have two of them," he says, frowning.

The youngest of three siblings, Gade, 29, has been a sub-engineer with the Roads Department in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's K-West ward (Andheri West) for five years.

A civil engineer from Nashik, he moved to Mumbai at age 23, to pursue a Master's degree in environmental engineering.

Eager to find a steady government job not too far from his hometown, Gade then applied to the BMC and was allotted a job in the roads department.

Now part of a team of seven regional sub-engineers, Gade plans, prepares tenders for and supervises the construction and repair of roads between the Milan subway and Oshiwara river.

Gade starts his day at 7am, with a leisurely bath. Then he sits down and reads two of his four daily newspapers while eating a breakfast of poha prepared by his wife of four years, Archana.

At 9am, the father of two leaves his one-bedroom Goregaon house and heads to the site office assigned to him the previous day. Sometimes, if other engineers are on leave, he visits two or even all four of the regional site offices.

Gade's work is seasonal. Between June and October, he plans road repair work and floats tenders; between November and May, the plans are executed.

"This is Mumbai. There is always work to be done," says Gade.

"The monsoons, of course, are our busiest time."

At a road construction or repair site, Gade guides and supervises the contractor, ensuring that the wiring and pipelines under the road are not disturbed.

"Occasionally, despite their best efforts, a power or telephone or gas or water pipeline is damaged," says Gade.

"If it is a minor problem, the labourers fix it immediately."

If it is serious, though, Gade begins the most tedious part of his job - calling and coordinating with the workers of the relevant department. All plans must also be made in consultation with these departments.

"This is one of the hardest parts of my job," says Gade.

"The other is dealing with annoyed local residents while work is underway."

Through the monsoon, all road work stops due to the rains and only pothole-filling work is conducted, usually at night, when traffic is at a minimum.

"It's hard work. A 1-sq-metre pothole can take two hours to seal off properly," says Gade.

Once a week, Gade must also find the time to visit the chief engineer to report on progress, and the BMC head office at Fort, to complete his paperwork.

On an ordinary, eventless day, Gade is home by 8pm. After a refreshing bath, he reads his other two newspapers and eats a home-cooked dinner with his wife. Then he spends some time playing with his one-year-old twin daughters before turning in at 11pm.

It's not easy raising a family and paying a home loan on a monthly salary of Rs. 35,000, Gade admits.

"But I truly enjoy my work," he says.

"If I have one true regret, it is not being able to spend more time with my family because of the erratic hours."

(This weekly feature explores the lives of those unseen Mumbaiites essential to your day)