The innumerous potholes on Bengaluru’s roads are as much about the sorry state of affairs in civic administration as they are about the heavier-than-usual rainfall that the city received this season. The battering has been so severe that there’s probably no road in the city without the visible symptoms of rain damage. The gaping potholes, some big enough to swallow people and small vehicles, expose bad planning, and, more seriously, the blatant corruption in execution of civic works.
The city corporation, the BBMP, has estimated that about 250 major roads have suffered damage, but in reality, the destruction seems much more extensive. Entire stretches have been ruined in certain areas, with even highways bearing testimony to the poor quality of construction and upkeep. After a campaign in The New Indian Express, the BBMP commissioner has promised to fix the roads in 10 days. Experts say a properly laid road should last at least three years, and if quality materials are used, it should not need major repairs for up to five years.
But roads in Bengaluru don’t seem capable of weathering even a single spell of rain. One, the road contractors neither use quality materials nor follow proper guidelines. Two, officials whose job it is to ensure quality not only fail to do their job but also allow irregularities in collusion with greedy contractors and politicians. Three, poor maintenance of drains and their encroachment leads to flooding even during short spells of rain—water stagnation is the main cause of road damage.
Then there are other issues like frequent digging of roads, unscientific repairs and civic agencies’ preference for quick-fixes than long-term solutions. The bad roads in Bengaluru tell what primarily ails our civic management: lack of accountability. It’s time contractors, officials and their political masters are held responsible and made to pay for their failures. Fixing potholes is a short-term solution, it’s the system that needs to be fixed for a lasting effect.