It just took 15 minutes to repair a couple of potholes on the ill-maintained road near Regional Passport Office and vehicles began using the stretch the very next minute. This live demo of repairing average-sized potholes using cold-mix bitumen (a ready mix compound) was organised by Better Kochi Response Group (BKRG), an NGO, on Saturday.
The all-weather technology is ideal for use in the rainy season. When workers cleaned up potholes and spread the multi-compound mix over them, it began to drizzle. But the work continued. The compound was compressed and levelled using rammer.
The very next minute, the official SUV of GCDA Chairman N. Venugopal and other vehicles passed through the repaired road without any trouble.
Besides Mr. Venugopal, Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany, Deputy Mayor B. Bhadra and senior PWD officials were present to watch the demo. The Kochi Corporation and the PWD have been facing severe criticism for the pathetic condition of roads in the city and its suburbs. The Mayor’s remarks on actor Jayasurya for filling up potholes on a city road had also triggered a controversy.
The NGO’s president S. Gopakumar alleged that most contractors were carrying out shabby repair and resurfacing works and showing an aversion to new technologies.
He said residents associations and other bodies could take the initiative to repair roads during rains using the technology. “MNCs and other firms could devote a share of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the purpose or sponsor road repairs. PWD Secretary T.O. Sooraj is among those who are supporting the use of the technology ,” he said.
Muraleedhara Kurup, former member of Indian Roads Congress (IRC) and former Superintending Engineer of PWD said that contractors who adopt the technology could do without skilled labour. They don’t have to invest in heavy machinery and road rollers. “It is economical since there is no need for hot-mix plant, which results in an operational cost of Rs.25,000 daily . Since there is no need to heat bitumen, there is no air and sound pollution. Moreover, traffic regulation is nil since vehicles can use the restored road within minutes.”
“The compound is about three times costlier than bitumen, but prevents potholes from becoming bigger, thus making road repairs less costly, fast and durable. It reduces traffic snarls and the number of accidents because of potholed roads”, Mr. Kurup added.
With the compound being widely used in road repairs, the price has fallen to Rs. 875 for a 50-kg packet. “Less than two packets are enough to fill two average-sized potholes. They must ideally be filled within the second or third day of a hole developing. Any delay will result in the holes becoming wider and deeper. The compound is ideal for use along the NH since the sides of holes are surrounded by a strong layer. A small team of workers can fill up to 60 potholes per day,” Mr. Kurup said.
The nodal officer for flyovers proposed along the Edapally-Aroor NH Bypass P. A. Hashim said the PWD adopted the technology when other road-repair techniques failed.
“The department used 20 tonnes of the compound to fill potholes during the previous rainy season,” he said.