No time for passing the buck

Dr Ravindra Diddee (70), a Mumbai dentist was driving down SV Road towards Mahim on October 1. As soon as he passed under the Bandra West skywalk around 5.30 pm, a portion of the underside of the bridge gave way, and a metal panel, measuring 8X3 ft, crashed onto his car. It smashed the SUV’s windscreen and side-view mirror, denting the car roof.

Worse was the initial response of the authorities, when asked about the accident. The MMRDA and BMC passed the buck over the maintenance of the skywalk, while the Bandra police said they knew the tin panel had fallen on a vehicle but that it was ‘fortunate’ that no one was injured. A Bandra fire officer stated that a panel of the skywalk ‘may’ have been loosened by drug addicts intending to sell it for scrap.

This is hardly reassuring for the Mumbaikar. Although, today, we do see that the authorities are looking into the incident and what caused it.

Mumbai is a city that sees
widespread infrastructure projects. Yet, it is important that their maintenance is top class. We have more than 30 skywalks; what we need is good maintenance and follow-up. Contracts worth crores are handed out but a lackadaisical approach mars the upkeep and, to compound that, there is little accountability when it comes to accidents.

In the wake of this incident, authorities need to take quick steps and conduct regular inspections at all skywalks.

Improve not just regular maintenance, but also increase patrolling on these stretches. If the panels are indeed being tampered with, it is a hazard for commuters and the culprits must be caught. The casual, leave-it-to-fate attitude displayed in the initial answers of the authorities is unbecoming of them. After all, a project is not just about completion but timely maintenance too.

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