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Our roads better than Mumbai's, says BBMP

Arlene Mathew

Potholes in Bengaluru

Potholes have bothered the residents of Bengaluru no end. Even as they wait for the BBMP to fix existing potholes, their number seems to be increasing. According to a newspaper report, the BBMP has determined that the city has 15,935 potholes.
In an interview to The Observer, a BBMP chief engineer in charge of infrastructure said there is no long-standing solution to the problem of potholes other than constant maintenance of roads.

Asked about the rampant problem of potholes, the chief engineer, who didn’t want to be named, claimed that Bengaluru’s potholes are not as bad as those in other cities, like Mumbai. The problem exists in developed countries too, he added.

“Bengaluru has a road network of around 14,000 km, and many roads are very old. Rain has been incessant the past few months, and the water does not drain properly. When water stays on the roads for more than 50 days, it starts percolating and causes damage,” explained the chief engineer, who manages arterial and sub-arterial roads.

There are four main reasons, he said, for the rampant problem: The number of vehicles far exceeds the carrying capacity of roads; continuously digging roads destroys them; more than half of the potholes form because of water leakage; and

"Leakage of water and sewage is one of the main reasons for pothole formation,” the chief engineer informed The Observer. “The past few months have seen a rise in the number of potholes. This is mainly due to rain. We have started fixing them, but bitumen and water do not mix well. The hot bituminous mix that we use to cover the potholes requires the area to be dry during application, and for a long time after.”

One of the worst-affected areas is near Kengeri on the Bengaluru-Mysuru  highway. Because of the ongoing Metro work, roads are often congested and pothole-riddled. For motorcyclists, driving over these potholes is dangerous; some fall down and injure themselves. As BMTC buses struggle over the potholes, people standing inside have to hold tight.

Continuous rain has made the situation worse because potholes get filled with water. People riding over them don’t know how deep they are. Several motorcyclists who underestimated the depth of water-filled potholes have met with accidents.

Sreeram V Krishnan, a business analyst at Genpact, Electronics City, said he encounters many potholes on his way from office to home. “It is the need of the hour to have good roads. Poor roads cause traffic congestion and numerous accidents. Roads should last longer, but I have seen recently built roads degrade soon after.”
The roads could be built better, said Vaishnavi S., a student from JP Nagar. “We see good roads in other countries. Quality management techniques and swift repair of roads help maintain quality. Our government should start thinking of ways to implement a strategy like that.”

Many residents of Bengaluru have formed groups on Facebook and other social media to post pictures of potholes. These groups pinpoint many problems, but are the civic agencies paying any heed?