Photographs: Sameer Markande and Nimesh Dave
Driving in the monsoon forces motorists in the city to adopt manoeuvres never taught at driving schools, and make periodic ‘pit’ stops while negotiating the pothole-riddled roads.
Pouring rains in the last few days have put more pockmarks on the streets and washed away government departments’ promises of hassle-free travel. With the forthcoming Ganeshotsav, things are unlikely to improve for Mumbaikars. MiD DAY this time travelled the length and breadth of the city to find out how bad things really are.
The journey began from Mulund check naka. The first pothole-filled stretch we encountered was just before the Mulund flyover. The craters appeared like a motif sewn onto the asphalt. We came across a few more such areas shortly.
Motorists were seen slowing down or zigzagging to escape the cavities. Tar was strewn all over, making things more unpleasant. “There have been several accidents here. The condition of the road seemingly deteriorates as you keep moving on it,” said a police officer on bandobast at Eastern Express Highway (EEH).
We proceeded further south on EEH and reached Bhandup. The flyover here was in a pitiable state because of potholes. Vehicles were seen veering dangerously and the shock absorbers were bounced out. The pits were right in the middle of the two-lane road on this flyover.
The situation improved once we got off this flyover. However, the next one near Kannamwar Nagar, Vikhroli was horrifying. Seemed no maintenance work had been carried out. Potholes were spread all over the flyover, which is close to Godrej junction. According to traffic cops this area is a ‘black spot’, where accidents occur regularly. In the name of repairs one among many of these cracks had been filled using pavers. This created a dangerous bump on the road, further inconveniencing motorists.
A drizzle started as we crossed Vikhroli and proceeded towards Ghatkopar. Minutes later we were at Ramabai Nagar flyover, near the old Regional Transport Office (RTO) at Ghatkopar. Here too, potholes were acting as speed bumps.
“I am going to Powai and have driven all the way from Kharghar. The bumpy ride is really hurting my back,” said Amit Singh (21), who was riding a motorbike and is employed with a private firm.
We somehow traversed the flyover. The journey was a bit more pleasant after this, till we reached Suman Nagar junction. This area witnesses severe traffic jams every day because of the dismal state of the road. Apart from potholes at regular intervals, pavers were being used to cover some of the cracks, making driving more interesting. There was also water logging near this junction, compounding problems.
“I personally ensured a few days ago that this huge pothole (pointing at one) was filled up, but today it has again resurfaced. Driving becomes a nightmare here on weekdays,” said a traffic cop at Suman Nagar junction.
The initial section of Sion flyover was as clean as a slate, but things took a turn for the worse at the southern end. Vehicles had to slow down suddenly and here the flyover was reduced to a single lane.
There was frequent honking as motorists could see the open road further ahead, but the potholes slowed them down. Driving from here till Dadar Parsee Gymkhana was more congenial.
But, as soon as we touched the flyover at Dadar TT, the appalling roads were back. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic mainly due to the miserable shape of the motorway, potholes and water logging. At the southern end of this flyover, the asphalt road was in tatters.
The level of the road suddenly dipped due a huge pothole. A few pavers were lying around haphazardly and were getting kicked around by passing vehicles.
Dahisar toll plaza to Dattapada flyover
When motorists enter Mumbai from the Dahisar toll plaza and move ahead, they are greeted by a small flyover or subway bridge full of potholes on the south and northbound carriageways. The bridge is in such a pitiable state that it is difficult to find a smooth patch. Traffic jams are rampant during morning and evening peak hours.
It should be noted that few days ago the bridge was repaired by PWD, which plugged the potholes and also used pavers, but torrential rains at the fag end of monsoon have exposed the cover-up.
Arun Bhetate, working at the airport cargo department, travels between Dahisar and Santacruz every day on his bike. “For the last two years, the condition of this bridge near the toll plaza has remained woeful.
The WEH stretch between Dahisar and Santacruz is also full of potholes and bumps. Why do we pay taxes to the government when they cannot provide us proper roads? Action must be initiated against the contractors and officials responsible for the maintenance of this flyover,” he said to MiD DAY.
Malad and Aarey colony
The stretch between the two flyovers at Malad and Aarey colony are also marked by some rough patches and potholes, but at some places the craters have been sealed.
However, after getting off the Malad flyover we found a 50-metre stretch riddled with pits. With the rough surfaces on the sides, there are high chances of two-wheelers skidding.
National Park to Sai Dham Temple
Drivers headed towards Kandivli and Malad have to abruptly apply brakes to their vehicles after getting off from the flyover at Kandivli as a 100-metre scraggy stretch is full of potholes.
A few weeks ago, the dents here too were filled up, but recent rains have ensured the efforts were nullified. Praveen Rai who travels between Kandivli and Dadar every day said, “I have no idea what kind of pre-monsoon repairs were done as the potholes are very evident. I feel rather than carrying out frequent maintenance, roads should be constructed in a proper manner so that cracks do not appear.”
Andheri Jog flyover to Kherwadi Junction flyover and Sena Bhavan
The condition of roads between high-profile colonies like Andheri and Bandra is also not up to scratch. There are coarse patches and cracks in parts. A 100-metre stretch after motorists get down from the southbound lane of Jog flyover is particularly hazardous. Traffic coming from the flyover and underneath it comes to a halt and then moves at a snail’s pace for some time.
The domestic airport flyover isn’t much better off. Some potholes on this stretch have also been plugged with pavers, which is especially dodgy for two-wheelers. Between Mahim Causeway and Sena Bhavan, the surface of the road has several jagged patches, but no potholes.
Real estate agent Anil Singh, who travels on this stretch between Kandivli and Colaba, said, “With every shower a new pothole emerges. I am surprised to see that things like this keep happening year after year, and the same contractors are hired again and again.”
Vilas Pawar, ACP (traffic), East: “Potholes are a big problem every monsoon. We have been telling the concerned authorities to refill them properly but there is little improvement. This severely affects vehicular traffic.”
AV Shenoy, member, Mumbai Vikas Samiti and transport expert: “Potholes generally form on stretches where vehicles have to regularly apply brakes. The quality of tyres has improved over the years, but this particular reason for deterioration of roads still exists.”
BB Lohar, executive engineer, PWD: “Rs 30-40 lakh were spent in the pre-monsoon repairing and resurfacing of WEH. In order to sort the pothole issues on the highway, PWD has already started repairs and within two days all the cracks would be fixed. We are using bitumen emulsion, pavers and stone grindings to fill the potholes.”
PWD officials also said that at a tempo with workers has been deployed every five kilometres and they have been asked to mend the roads in two days.