Rain has washed away freshly laid tar on Edappally-Arkkakkadavu Road

Hardly a month ago, the Thykkavu-Alinchuvadu stretch of the Edappally-Arkkakkadavu Road was in a relatively good condition.

The Public Works Department (PWD) then chose to resurface the road just ahead of the monsoon. Relentless rain that lashed the city since has washed away the freshly laid tar into the nearby drains.

Now while manoeuvring vehicles through the pothole-riddled road, motorists are left wondering as to why the road was resurfaced in the first place.

“There was no need to resurface the road. Pedestrians are the worst affected as they have to use umbrellas as shields to protect themselves from getting drenched in the water splashed by vehicles speeding along the gutter-filled road,” said Mani, a resident of Alinchuvadu.

The PWD said it was under pressure from the political class to complete the work before the monsoon. “The work was executed in haste just ahead of the monsoon. There wasn’t enough time for the freshly laid tar to get set. The difficulty in getting enough tar from BPCL was another reason why the work got delayed. We are seized of the situation and will ensure that the contractor undertakes temporary rectification works at his own cost,” said P.P. Benny, Executive Engineer, PWD.

P.A. Hashim, Superintendent Engineer, PWD, said that only five per cent of the work was affected. “This particular road was trenched for laying pipelines. Usually such roads are resurfaced after a settlement period of minimum one year. We chose not to wait for the settlement period to ensure that the road wasn’t weakened further,” he said.

But that doesn’t account for the bad condition of portions of the road that were not dug up for pipelines.

A.N. Santhosh, secretary, CPI (M) Vennala local committee, said Rs.20 lakh spent on surfacing the one-km-long Thykkavu-Alinchuvadu stretch has gone up in flames. “We have submitted a petition to the PWD Minister and the executive engineer demanding that the road be repaired by the contractor. We have also asked them not to clear his bills before the completion of repair works,” he said.

Mr. Benny said there was no question of clearing the bills before the completion of rectification works, which would be done in two days. Asked whether the contractor concerned would be blacklisted, he said the PWD would be forced to reconsider allocation of work to such contractors who put the department and the public to hardships.

The contractor, Shamsu K.K, however, blamed the delayed tendering of the work just ahead of the monsoon and the delay in getting tar for the present state of the road. He denied compromising on quality, stating that other stretches that he had completed ahead of the monsoon had not sustained any damage.

“There was constant supervision by a PWD overseer and therefore the issue of compromising quality does not arise,” he said.

M.B. Muralidharan, councillor of Padivattom, said quality compromises borne out of contractor-official nexus are behind every road that gets damaged prematurely. “People have no idea whether a road belongs to PWD or corporation and it’s always the councillors who have to bear the brunt of public fury. In fact, the councillors barely have any say in the works executed by the PWD,” he said.

C.D. Valsalakumari, councillor of one of the divisions sharing the road, said the councillors were not consulted about the work “We will seek an explanation from the PWD for the sorry state of the road,” she said.

K.K. Muralidharan, who runs a bakery in the locality, is furious that all the dust he was forced to inhale and kept away his customers during the course of the road resurfacing has been in vain. “Now after the rain, the mockery of road work will repeat and I will be subjected to the same ordeal,” he said.

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