Mumbai: Deadly gap endangers commuters on Western Express Highway flyover

A gaping space between the two expansion joints of the WEH flyover in Kandivli is developing into a hazard for two- and three-wheeler riders using it; the life-threatening gap is covered only by a metal sheet that frequently slips away

Civic and transport authorities seem to be least interested about the safety of the commuters using the arterial Western Express Highway (WEH) in Kandivli (east). A gap, which has developed between the two expansion joints of the flyover opposite the Mahindra & Mahindra near Thakur Complex in Kandivli is posing a grave threat to two and three-wheeler riders who use the flyover.

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The gap is especially harmful to two- and three-wheeler riders, who can face serious damage if the front wheel gets caught in the gap. Pics/Nimesh Dave
The gap is especially harmful to two- and three-wheeler riders, who can face serious damage if the front wheel gets caught in the gap. Pics/Nimesh Dave

On Wednesday, mid-day photographer Nimesh Dave was on his way to work, riding his bike on the flyover. Just then, he saw that a two-wheeler rider was about to meet with an accident because of the gap. The man was saved at the very last minute. Seeing that this can be dangerous for motorists and to two and three wheeler riders, Dave immediately called up traffic control and informed them about the same.

“Over a week ago, I saw the authorities putting up a metal sheet above the expansion joint gap to avoid accidents. But today, when I was on my way to work, I saw that the sheet has moved away from its location, making the gap visible. In fact, one bike rider was about to fall, and so I immediately stopped and informed the traffic police official about it. I also kept a plastic barrier ahead of the gap,” said Dave.

Plastic barriers have been placed before the gap
Plastic barriers have been placed before the gap

Moving away
Over a week ago, the authorities started repairing the joint on the southbound carriageway of the flyover. A metal sheet, around 10cm thick and measuring 6 feet x 8 feet approximately was kept over the expansion joint to cover the gap. The sheet was wielded as well, so that it does not slip away. However, despite taking this measure the metal sheet has started moving away from the gap.

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Prassana A, who regularly uses the bridge said, “On Monday, when I was returning to Malad, I was shocked to see the metal sheet between the gaps. The worrying part was that it had started moving away from the gap because of the heavy vehicles that were passing over it. The gap between the joints is more than 2-3 inches and it can be dangerous for two wheelers, because if the front or rear tyre goes into the gap, not only will the person meet with accident but he might also get killed as there are speeding vehicles coming from behind.”

mid-day tried to contact Mumbai Entry Point Limited (MEPL) — the toll operator that maintains some of the flyovers on WEH — but we were told that this flyover does not come under their jurisdiction.

Traffic police says
Shrikrishna Katakdhond Senior Police Inspector (Traffic) from Dahisar, said, “We have been facing this problem from January 13 and the gap between expansion joints is very dangerous for the two wheeler riders. We don’t want any accident to take place and hence we have even informed MMRDA, MSRDC, BMC’s Disaster Management and PWD. But, all the agencies keep passing the buck and no one is taking a responsibility to permanently repair it.”

Katakdhond added, “After making several phone calls, the metal sheet was placed over the gap by one of the agencies. But it does not remain at that place because vehicles keep passing over it. Every three hours or so, our traffic police constables have to go at the spot and put the metal sheet over the gap again. I think the agency responsible for maintaining the Thakur Complex flyover should repair it or else there are chances of accidents happening.”

The damaged expansion joints have not been a new problem and other old flyovers have faced the same issue as well. The six-lane wide and 592 metre long Thakur Complex flyover was constructed at a cost of Rs 25crore by Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and was funded by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA. The flyover was thrown open for public in the year 2009.

MSRDC says
When mid-day contacted MSRDC chief R Mopalwar, he said, “We had constructed the flyover and the MMRDA had funded the project. We have handed over the flyover to the PWD and our officials are in touch with PWD authorities. We will send them reminders once again, asking them to solve the problem.”

Rs 25 crore
Approximate cost of building the Thakur Complex flyover

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