The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is hoping to get its act together on the issue of potholes this time.
Alleging that its experiments with various technologies have been sabotaged by a cartel of contractors, the civic body has now made it compulsory for contractors to enter into a joint venture (JV) with technology suppliers.
This arrangement, the civic body hopes, will ensure that contractors don’t use the new technology the wrong way and sabotage its performance. In the past, contractors had tried to jeopardise the performance of any new technology introduced on an experimental basis by not using it the right way.
The BMC has finalised four new technologies — Wonder patch, Patchmaker, Road Bond and Carboncor — and is all set to float tenders this week.
HT had, in its October 22 edition, reported how the civic body had been conducting trials on four technologies, out of which two, Wonder patch and Road Bond, had performed well, while Patch maker had got mixed reviews. The fourth, Power Grout, had done badly and has not been considered for this tender.
The JV proposal signifies a tectonic shift in the way the city’s potholes will be filled. For years now, experts and activists had been demanding more scientific methods of filing potholes, a move that had been resisted by officials as well as contractors. Finally, yielding to public outrage last year following the state of the city’s roads, the civic body decided to test technologies that could be used on the city’s roads, during the monsoons.
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said, “We are hoping that our experimentation with modern technologies, which use cold-mixes, is successful in filling potholes more effectively. We will be inviting bids from contractors soon.”
Said a civic official: “This time, there will be two options — either the technology supplier can bid by himself or can enter into a joint venture with the supplier.”
Contractors, however, are not happy. Said a major road contractor, who did not wish to be named: “The BMC should have been more democratic in their approach. In this new system, it’s the suppliers who call the shots and we contractors will have no choice but to just follow them. What if the technology proves to be ineffective? We would stand to lose a lot.”
Chairman of the standing technical advisory committee (STAC) NV Merani said: “The BMC should ensure that these technology suppliers have a greater say in supervising the work of the contractors.”
Meanwhile, of the total tender cost of Rs 50 crore, around Rs10 crore has been kept for using the conventional method of hot-mixes.