The efficiency of the Public Works Department is in question after potholes have emerged on recently resurfaced roads in the city. The appearance of potholes has nullified the PWD’s tall claims that it resurfaced a record number of roads this fiscal.
An official of the agency admitted to poor planning and delay in starting roadworks.
PWD sources said the agency was supposed to carry out roadworks during the dry months — from December to April. However, roads were resurfaced only by May end and repairs were abandoned indefinitely with the onset of monsoon. The PWD has not yet prepared a list of roads that need urgent repairs, despite protests from road users and merchant bodies.
Vennala-Arakkakadavu Road and BTS Road were given a new surface in May, but now they are riddled with potholes.
An office-bearer of East BTS Road Residents’ Association said the road was much better before being resurfaced. “The Rs.25 lakh from the public fund spent on roadworks has gone waste. Our members have serious reservations about the quality and quantity of bitumen used for the bituminous macadam and bituminous concrete (BMBC) resurfacing,” he said.
A senior PWD (Roads wing) official said BTS Road was given an 18-month guarantee after it was resurfaced. The contractor would have to repair the road once the rain subsides.
Potholes have cropped up on the busy Palarivattom-Kakkanad Road and High Court Junction-Rajendra Maidan Road after tar-topping was stopped midway. Bituminous macadam was laid only on few portions of the roads and bituminous concreting work was postponed. As a result, potholes have developed on the resurfaced portions. Ironically, the stretches of the roads left untouched are in a relatively better condition. The NH wing of the PWD has come under fire for its ineptitude in undertaking roadworks on the pock-marked Edappally overbridge on NH 17 and its approach roads.
There are reports that the PWD has held Kochi Refineries Limited (KRL) responsible for shortage of bitumen, which led to incomplete roadworks.
KRL has, however, blamed the PWD for placing orders just before the onset of monsoon. A KRL spokesperson said the agency would have been in a better position to supply bitumen had the PWD placed orders in November-December. “We tried our level best to supply bitumen to the PWD, and even scaled down orders from Chennai,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Highways Authority of India has also failed to repair gaping potholes on the Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass. The agency did not act despite huge traffic hold-ups and a spate of accidents on the road. Incidentally, the bypass was resurfaced in 2011, with a five-year guarantee. The NHAI has blamed the heavy rain for the road’s sorry state, but the potholes had developed during the summer months.
The PWD has said repairs could be taken up only after the rain subsides. The NHAI is yet to fix a time frame for roadworks.