You pay a toll whenever you enter and exit Mumbai so that the flyovers, built to ease traffic congestion on the two highways and to facilitate faster travel from the suburbs to the island city, are well maintained.
However, one month after the monsoon has set in, the pothole-ridden flyovers on the Eastern and Western Express Highways offer anything but a smooth ride.
The flyovers at Ghatkopar, Sion, Dadar, Mulund, Andheri, Dahisar and the Vikhroli-Kanmwar flyover are in particularly bad condition, leading to traffic jams because of slow-moving vehicles.
Motorists, fed up of getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams every day, are now wondering why Mumbaiites are paying the toll tax and what exactly is being done with the money collected.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which constructed the flyovers, collects toll tax at the city’s five entry-exit points, — Dahisar, Mulund (three places) and Vashi — to repay the loan taken to build these flyovers as well as to maintain them.
On an average, the MSRDC gets Rs131 crore by way of toll tax every year. The private firm hired to do the job collects Rs30 for a car and Rs80 for heavy vehicles. The MSRDC has been collecting toll tax for more than a decade now.
“My back got badly hurt while I was driving my bike on the Mulund flyover after it hit a huge pothole. It is disastrous. Despite paying all taxes, we have to suffer physical injuries because authorities are negligent,” said Milind Pawar, a Mulund resident.
“The flyovers are not maintained, so where’s the money collected from toll going?” asked Jagdeep Desai, who complains about the sorry state of the Andheri flyover.
When contacted, MSRDC’s chief engineer Subhash Nage said: “We have recently inspected all the flyovers and found lots of potholes. But as it has not stopped raining since the past two weeks, we have not been able to attend to them. As soon as there’s a dry spell, the repair work will be done.”
Nage added that because of traffic, the flyovers can be repaired only between 11pm and 7am.
CV Khandekar, structural engineer and former BMC employee, suggests ideas to prevent potholes from forming in the first place. “If water gets drained completely from the flyover, there will be no potholes,” he said. “Also, allowing enough time for the asphalt to harden when it is laid will prevent potholes.”