Staff Reporter

Scam alleged in road-maintenance contracts

Corporation roads do not slant towards drains

Corporation urged to take a cue from KSTP work

KOCHI: Most roads under the Corporation of Kochi are in a dilapidated condition, despite the agency spending Rs. 29 crores during the past two years to ‘maintain’ them.

The agency maintains the arterial Sahodaran Aiyyappan Road and the Chitoor Road (a total length of hardly 7 kms), and side roads.

The Corporation engineering wing revealed the details of funds spent on maintaining roads, following a right-to-information application filed by Benny Joseph, State convener of Janapaksham – an NGO.

It spent Rs 10.26 crores in 2006-’07 on road repairs, while Rs 18.47 crores was spent in 2007-’08.

“Road-maintenance work has become a milch cow for unscrupulous people in the Corporation and contractors. Repair works are carried out recurrently and hastily at the same place, many times a year. None of the repairs is covered under the guarantee clause, under which the contractor has to maintain the road for at least 5 years. It must be remembered that the PWD and the GCDA maintain prominent arterial roads in the city. The money spent by them on repair work would be in addition to the Rs 29 crores spent by the Corporation,” said Mr. Joseph.

Corporation roads are known for not slanting towards the drains, often slanting away from them. This results in water stagnating on the road.

Worker who relay roads often block the rainwater inlets from the road to the drain.

Even worse, road shoulders are higher than the road in many places, preventing the flow of water onto the sides.

“This can be prevented if the Corporation asks its workers to clear slush and other waste from the drain inlets. Instead of treating the root cause, Government agencies spend lakhs of rupees to repair roads that get damaged because of water-logging,” said Kuncheria P. Isac, of the Civil Engineering Department, Thiruvananthapuram Engineering College.

He said that an elaborate 29-km-long, two lane ring-road system could have been freshly rebuilt using the Rs. 29 crores that the Corporation of Cochin is said to have spent on maintaining roads which continue to be severely potholed.

The money would have taken care of maintenance expenses of the ring road as well for another five years.

The secretary of the All Kerala Government Contractors Association Joji Joseph said that agencies like the Corporation and the PWD must take a cue from roads built under the Kerala State Transport Project.

“The KSTP contractors have to maintain the roads for at least five years. Nowadays, the PWD and local bodies like the Corporation carry out just a ‘blackening’ work of the road surface using outdated specifications. Moreover, contractors engaged by the Corporation of Cochin do not get their dues cleared on a priority basis. This reflects in the quality of work,” Mr. Joji said.