Motorists using the Western Express Highway (WEH) to commute to their workplaces and back are a flustered lot, thanks to the several potholes that have cropped up all over the stretch between Dahisar and Bandra.

The responsible parties are two different government agencies – the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and the Public Works Department (PWD).

The morning drive to the office and also the return journey in the evening is fraught with long queues of vehicles moving slowly, trying to navigate through the pothole-ridden mess that is the highway.

An auto rickshaw could probably fit width-wise into this pothole in Goregaon
An auto rickshaw could probably fit width-wise into this pothole in Goregaon

Potholes are seen at several places between Dahisar and Bandra at the southbound stretch near Jogeshwari, the domestic airport flyover and northwards after the Aarey flyover, to mention a few spots. At some places, the craters are so big that one cannot judge their depth when they are filled with water posing a grave danger to two-wheelers.

Potholes are seen at regular intervals from Bandra (above) to the Dahisar toll naka. Pics/Kaushik Thanekar
Potholes are seen at regular intervals from Bandra (above) to the Dahisar toll naka. Pics/Kaushik Thanekar

Incidentally, a biker had lost his life after skidding due to a deep pothole on the Malad flyover last year. Besides this, traffic jams stretch to kilometres and a distance that should take minutes to cover, ends up taking hours.

The Dindoshi flyover has been a disaster for vehicles as well. A month after it was repaired for its cracked slabs, potholes appeared with the first showers.

The MSRDC had to repair it again, and while speaking to mid-day, had said that the potholes might appear again, since they weren’t given enough time to conduct repair work by the traffic cops.

Money down the drain
As if on cue, the rains caused potholes to reappear on the Dindoshi flyover. Asked what would be done about the porholes, MSRDC’s chief engineer, B N Ohol, said, “We will repair them on a temporary basis.

But we can fix them permanently only during a dry spell i.e. after the monsoon.” PWD’s Executive Engineer B B Lohar told this reporter that they had written several letters to the MSRDC to get potholes repaired between Dindoshi flyover and Kandivli, but that they had received no response.

The PWD itself spent nearly Rs 50 lakh on refurbishing the highway, including filling potholes, painting dividers and other such work. Like the MSRDC’s ‘repairs’, these, too, seem to have failed spectacularly.

When Lohar was asked why his own department wasn’t attending to the roads under their jurisdiction, he replied, “We did all we could, but you know how Mumbai’s rains are. We have a team which travels 24x7 on the highway and fills up potholes wherever they are, using paver blocks and sand.”

Nandkumar Salvi, a retired engineer from the BMC’s Roads and Bridges department, said, “The main reason for these potholes on the Dindoshi flyover and the WEH is because work was not properly done by the agencies.”

He further cited a government circular, according to which no work on roads is to be done after May 10 since the tar and upper layer need to settle down before the rains arrive. Yet, work stretches almost into June. “I personally feel the Dindoshi flyover was repaired in a hurry and the compaction of the road didn’t happen properly.

Even if the potholes are repaired now, they will continue coming again and again,” he added. So, even as the state bodies continue playing the blame game, there is no end in sight for commuters’ suffering.