Will authorities act only when lives are lost?

Updated: Dec 24, 2019, 08:16 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

The Sion flyover has been closed for heavy vehicles for some months now, after a concrete slab fell on the road below

Bridge was declared dilapidated in March
Bridge was declared dilapidated in March

Two bridges on busy main roads are being repaired, resulting in diversions and causing inconvenience to commuters. While citizens won't mind bearing the consequences when crucial repairs are carried out, what they will not forget is that these bridges were declared dangerous a long time ago and were being kept open despite that, putting lives at risk.

The Hans Bhugra Marg bridge in Vakola, which connects Kurla to the Western Express Highway was to be shut on November 23, but had to be kept open till December 23, as the traffic police were unable to find alternatives to re-route the huge number of vehicles.

The Sion flyover has been closed for heavy vehicles for some months now, after a concrete slab fell on the road below. This key bridge will be shut down for 45 days starting January 10. This, too, is a delayed response, as the repair work was in the pipeline for at least six months. That is six months too many
to have risked motorists' lives.

Similar is the story of foot-overbridges on the suburban train line. This paper's survey of foot-overbridges at 13 stations along the 32 kilometres between Thane and CSMT revealed missed inspection deadlines and absence of routine checks. Maintenance schedule boards said the last inspection was conducted in April, and that the next inspection was due in November. This means the bridges have not been inspected even one month after the deadline. The situation points to a lack of seriousness by the Railways and raises concerns of passenger safety.

Authorities in Mumbai don't seem to bother till people start dying. And even then, whatever measures are taken are stop-gap measures, akin to applying a band-aid for a broken bone. Authorities should not wait till the last minute before beginning repair work on major infrastructures and public works. They should take public safety more seriously than they do now.

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