Killer potholes proof of BBMP corruption

This year’s record-breaking rains have damaged roads on an unprecedented scale. Long stretches of roads have been washed away, leaving behind huge craters. Many of these potholes are on major roads. Not only are they contributing to traffic jams but they are also causing accidents. Two-wheeler drivers, in particular, are forced to swerve suddenly to avoid crashing into the potholes. They lose control over the vehicle and end up hitting pedestrians or other vehicles. There have been several instances where they have fallen under the wheels of a bus or a truck. Navigating crater-covered ‘roads’ is a nightmarish experience, especially for two-wheeler drivers. Avoiding a pothole is often not possible, forcing drivers to endure a bumpy ride. This has resulted in spinal and other bone injuries. According to doctors in Bengaluru, at least 25 cases of compression fractures, that is, the collapse or compression of the backbone, are reported on an average every month at the city’s hospitals. In addition to spinal injuries, fractures of the limbs have emerged as a major problem, thanks to the potholed roads. Aged people who ride two-and three-wheelers, especially those with osteoporosis, are particularly vulnerable to spinal and other bone fractures.

Several of Bengaluru’s roads have been reduced to slushy mud tracks that are punctuated with open craters and manholes. These are death traps. Yet, BBMP officials have not shed their lackadaisical attitude to the problem. All we hear from them are grand promises to fill these potholes. But temporary filling of craters with construction debris is only worsening the situation. A single downpour is enough to sweep the filling away, leaving behind a bigger mess.

It is neither heavy rain nor any shortcoming in technological know-how but the poor quality of material used and the shoddy work done during the initial road construction that is to blame for our potholed roads. An unholy nexus of corporators and contractors is benefiting from the lucrative business of filling potholes, relaying and re-asphalting roads annually. It is their greed that keeps our roads potholed. Pothole filling has become an annual money-making exercise. Civil society needs to play a larger role in monitoring road construction and repair. Residential societies could keep up the pressure on authorities and ensure that such work is proactive and done before the monsoons arrive. It is time, too, that contractors and road construction engineers are taken to task for their shoddy work. Too many people are suffering lifelong spinal and other injuries, even getting killed because of potholed roads. Fixing accountability for poor quality of roads and punishing those responsible for this is necessary to tackle the problem over the long term.

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