Tuesday , 17 September 2019
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Jewels Of Roads

No one cares about giving Goans pothole-free, risk-free roads

The roads of Goa are full of potholes once again with the arrival of the monsoon. All roads in even normal times have craters, but they turn more troublesome, splashy and life threatening during the monsoon. The state government seems to have lost the capacity to keep the roads level, smooth, pleasurable and risk-free. Bad road conditions cause hurdles to smooth flow of traffic and increase travel time. It makes vehicles more prone to accidents. Road conditions are worse in urban and semi-urban areas where frequent digging is done for various developmental works. There is no control over who is digging and when and whether the concerned department or agency has repaired the dug parts. Every year the state government warns that road cutting and digging would not be allowed after May 15 but this is rarely complied. Works go on till the arrival of monsoon, leaving no time for restoring them. Every year before the onset of monsoon the state government and municipal bodies promise pothole-free roads, but the result is the same. Why should there be more potholes or wider potholes where they were small ones with the rains if the contractors assigned the jobs had done them honestly? The patchwork done is shoddy and gets washed away with the rain. In several cases potholes surface at the same places year after year. A lot of money goes in pothole patchworks; with the recurrence, the quantum increases.

Roads even in the capital Panaji are bejewelled with potholes. The Corporation of the City of Panaji claims to have done  pre-monsoon works this year too as last year, but the results are pathetic. All roads in the city were dug up for various works repeatedly and shoddy patchworks were done a few days before onset of delayed monsoon, which were washed away after the first rain. Panaji is being developed as a Smart City under the centrally sponsored programme and crores of rupees have been spent on upgradation. The woes of residents of Panaji have been compounded manifold since developmental works began as a part of the implementation of Smart City projects. The mayor of Panaji had promised pothole-free roads after the end of the code of conduct in view of parliamentary and assembly by-elections. He had also said that CCP has purchased ‘road bond’ material from Hindustan Petroleum Chemicals to fill the potholes on the city roads, but it has not been used to rid city roads of potholes.

The rules require the agency undertaking digging works to restore the road to fair condition after completing the works but this is often violated. What is done is substandard work obviously in collusion with monitoring officials. Despite it being obvious that the potholes cannot increase in number or become wider without monitoring officials approving substandard patchworks by contractors, the state government has failed to penalize them and deter the new monitors from colluding. Substandard works cause the asphalt coat to be washed away with rains – in most cases, with the first showers. This puts drivers of vehicles and pedestrians to great inconvenience and risks. Signs are not always put to warn motorists about the diggings and potholes. 

The state government and the municipal bodies have become so indifferent to the problems of potholes that citizens are resigned to their fate and do not even raise the issue. With no voices being raised, the authorities probably have come to the conclusion that they have a licence to continue with their negligent approach as they have been doing for years. The situation is very dangerous. It does lead to tragedies such as injuries and deaths to people. The state government and the municipal bodies have to wake up to their responsibility of enforcing the rule book when giving permission for road digging and cutting, making sure that the road restoration work is done to the specifications within the shortest possible time. The agencies that do shoddy road restoration works should be made to redo the work at their costs and levied fines. It is time that the Chief Minister and the chairpersons of the municipal bodies realized that good roads are an integral part of
Goan personality.

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