It’s not surprising that the city roads are in the state they are in. The contractors appointed to maintain roads to prevent potholes and to carry out repair work have bagged contracts after quoting as low as 55% below the civic body’s estimated work cost.
All contractors appointed in each of the 24 civic wards in the city have quoted between 24% and 55% below the civic body’s estimated cost.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) floated tenders for an estimated cost of Rs 5 crore each, and these contractors were appointed in June 2010.
The BMC’s policy is to allot tenders to the lowest bidders. Their job is to do road maintenance and repair before, during and after the monsoon. Their contract expires on March 31, 2012.
Manisha Construction Company, the contractor for K-west ward – it includes Andheri (west), Jogeshwari (west) and parts of Juhu – made the lowest bid, which is 55.1% below the BMC’s estimated bid amount.
Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner (roads), claimed the BMC keeps a check on contractors when they execute the project. “Also, most of them access materials and resources at cheap rates so they can afford to quote low prices,” he said.
Standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale admitted such low bids translate to shoddy work, though the committee he heads approved these contracts. “The reason for these low bids is that the rate by which the civic estimate had been prepared was higher than the market estimate at the time of floating the tender,” he said. “Despite that, going as low as 50% below the estimate is unnatural. These works happen at ward levels and are shoddily executed.”
Sudhir Badami, member of the court-appointed road monitoring committee said: “If they have such low bids, there is either some seriously wrong with the estimate or the contractors are cutting corners and the quality of work is sub-standard,” he said.
NV Merani, chairman of the state-appointed Standing Technical Advisory Committee said civic estimates must be examined closely. “The civic chief should also send vigilance department officials to spots that contractors who quoted the lowest bid are responsible for and check the quality of work,” he said.