I never noticed our pothole before. Then I landed at the Mumbai airport after two years in San Francisco, and I was in shock.
On my first day in the city I grew up in, I dropped my shiny, new touchphone when my auto driver sped through a pothole. (For those concerned, my phone is working but bears a crack).
When I see the roads here, my mind drifts back to Frisco, to its tree-lined lanes, scenic freeways and smooth rides where speed limits have to be controlled by signs.
Here, potholes do that job, establishing their presence through the year! The city doesn’t need to invest in signs and boards for its highways, flyovers or bridges. Most of the time, no one speeds —because they can’t.
Everyone is cribbing about potholes, but may be, there’s a way out.
The state should invest in ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) to help us commute without breaking our backs and losing our minds. The RTO should approve them as road legal. Wouldn’t they be safer than bikes?
On a more sincere note, I genuinely want to do something the road conditions, but have no idea how the system works.
But, names of contractors who have defaulted should be made public. In fact, they should be severely punished by not only banning them from future contracts, but also making them pay a fee or the entire amount costing to repair the street depending on how long the road really lasted.
There should also be coordination between various government departments and a sense of responsibility towards the city.
For example people from other agencies like sewage, phone line and water, etc dig up a newly made road sometimes just days after the road agency completed it, and almost never does that spot come back to the original smooth form.
Besides all these agencies and private building constructors have various trucks leave so much debris that it eventually deteriorates the condition of that road.
Should we just blame all this on corruption as usual? I want to be part of a solution and coming from a technology background, I propose that the government should employ a research agency to look at the traffic, weather, usage of roads and number of pedestrians, etc.
Then, get a standard recommendation in place on what materials and what quality should be used to construct roads in Mumbai. The standards should not turn into guidelines, they have to be rules that have to be followed. Will this system be enforced?
After all the people travelling to BMC offices also use the same roads, and feel the same back pain. The future of the roads is in the hands of the people that work at the concerned government agencies and I appeal to them that if they call this lovely city their home, do your job — well.
Next time when I leave the city for a long time, I want to miss the roads of Mumbai.
(Hiral Shah, 25, is a software engineer and Juhu resident)