Free Press Journal

Mumbai: Who is to be blamed for bad highways?


Mumbai: Poor response to the bids of road repair work of city’s two highways, Eastern Express Highway and Western Express Highway, will result in bumpy rides and pothole-ridden roads this monsoon. The tenders issued by the nodal agency, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), has not even received a single bid for the project even after the third call for a bid.

The MMRDA were handed over the highways in April when 70 stone quarries — one of the major construction element required for road repair work — of Navi Mumbai and Thane had already got shut. The shutting down of stone quarries is cited as one of the major reasons behind the poor response to these repairs tenders.

Although MMRDA has been appointed as the executing agency to carry out repair work on the highways, the Public Works Department (PWD) was in charge of these road strips till April. They failed to carry out pre-monsoon road repair this year. The negligence has resulted in poor response to the tenders as the stone quarries were shut down on March 30. MMRDA had given a third call for the tenders; however, there has been no takers so far.

PWD handed over the highways to MMRDA after Supreme Court ruling banning sale of alcohol within 500 metres of the highways. The highways are supposed be renamed as main roads.

A senior MMRDA official told FPJ, “BMC starts the road repair works four to five months prior to monsoon and continues work post-monsoon. The roads were handed over to them in April. By then, the stone quarries from resourceful places (Navi Mumbai) were shut and all contractors working on the ongoing road repair work of the city faced it difficult to continue due to the shortage. Ideally, PWD should have had started the repair work earlier so that the repair work would not have started late.”

Unfortunately, MMRDA are in a fix since by the time they issued tenders, the stone quarries got shut. Despite tweaking the tender conditions of the repair work, the contractors have not come forward to bid for the project. In addition, MMRDA has even agreed to pay an additional transportation cost if at all the contractors will bring the quarries from Palghar instead of Thane and Navi Mumbai.

Speaking to Free Press Journal, Pravin Darade, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner (AMC), had said, “The stone quarries at Thane is one of the major source for acquiring construction materials was shut recently and that has adversely impacted the road repairs work. Fearing that they will fall short of materials in the future, these contractors have not showed up.”