The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) pothole tracking system is unique. It has been programmed not to accept fresh photographs of any road or a potholed-stretch that has been repaired once. Seemingly, the BMC feels that their people do such a brilliant job of filling potholes that they won’t reappear for a year.
Citizens have been left confused, angry after attempts to upload photographs of roads where potholes have reappeared days after repair work had been carried out, were rejected by the tracker system.
There would be no reason to worry if all the systems operated and undertaken by the authorities were used properly. The re-assigning and re-opening of the potholes, two salient features in the system, are rarely used. It becomes difficult for citizens to know whether a pothole has been repaired, as the rework assignments are not posted on the website.
An engineer has been appointed to re-assign the potholes. He has been given the power to analysethe quality of work carried out by the contractor.
If it isn’t so, the pothole is re-assigned and the work is done again without any payment made to the contractor. In spite of several complaints from the citizens on shoddy work being done on majority of potholes, only 2,811 potholes have beenre-assigned out of the 21,366 potholes that have been reported.
Secondly, if a repaired pothole reappears due to heavy rain, the contractor must redo the work without being paid again, as according to the contract, every pothole filled needs to have one-year warranty.
So far, engineers have re-opened around 1,026 potholes over the past two months due to heavy rainfall. With re-assigning and re-opening part of the system, the administration has been able to identify the shoddy work. Meanwhile, citizens continue to report new as well as old potholes on the Voice of Citizens website.
LS Vhatkar, director, BMC, said, “Around 1,277 potholes remain to be filled. It will be easier to fill them during this dry spell. There is no easy way out for contractors.”
A road engineer, on condition of anonymity, said, “The pothole tracking system has made things easier for, us as we have to look at the potholes that are uploaded on the system. However, it sometimes gets tough to handle contractors, when we re-assign the shoddy repair work. We are forced to complain to higher authorities to get the work done. We have managed to get a few potholes re-repaired so far.”