PWD Minister must make his engineers and contractors work, not citizens
Public Works Department Minister Deepak Pauskar has a brainwave to fix potholes: he has asked citizens to take photographs of potholes and post them along with their GPS locations to a designated WhatsApp number. Are we finally hearing a frank admission by PWD Minister that the number of potholes on Goa’s roads being as many as stars in the sky, the officers of his department can do little more than clasp their heads in their hands? The citizens are already burdened with too much work for their employers and families. Now Pauskar wants them to work for him too – and free of charge! Does it not mean that a person who starts out from home for workplace on scooter or in car has to pull over by the roadside and wait for a moment of relief from busy traffic to take a close picture of a pothole and then find its ‘global position’ for the convenience of the PWD engineers? What is the department going to do then – just create potholes for people to take pictures of them? Democracy has never been seriously funnier than under Deepak Pauskar!
Most Goans might be using smartphones but not all might be smart enough to send GPS location of a pothole. The result: most potholes will go un-photographed and hence unrepaired. Why cannot PWD officials, their ground staff, be sent to take photographs of potholes? Many of the roads today are built by contractors under a guarantee of maintenance for a few years. It is the responsibility of the contractors who built the roads to immediately repair the potholes developed in them. They need not wait for citizens to send photographs. If the contractors do not do that, PWD officials should ask them to do so. It is the PWD officials who know which roads have been built by which contractor.
People across the state have been experiencing a harrowing time since the onset of monsoon due to potholes. There have been accidents due to potholes. The patchworks that were done in a few places got washed away within a few days. The PWD Minister has assured to fix all the potholes within eight days, provided the existence of potholes on state highways and main district roads is brought to the notice of PWD authorities by citizens. The idea of citizens sending photographs might not work as more than one person might send photographs of the same pothole on different occasions; and secondly, most potholes could go unreported. Deploying department staff to survey the roads and locate potholes alone would help PWD officials act faster in filling potholes.
It is the duty of the PWD and its contractors to build good quality roads in the first place. Why should potholes develop in a well-constructed road? There could be a crack here and a depression there, but the number of potholes cannot be as many as trees in the Amazon unless the quality of road construction is poor. An honestly built road cannot be damaged by one or two rains. Yet monsoon makes a favourite scapegoat to PWD Minister, his engineers and his contractors. Potholes would not have been as many as we find if the contractors who built the roads and the PWD engineers who certified the quality of construction were penalized. Are we to conclude that even though Goa PWD is more than 60 years old, it is not yet mature enough to understand the weather patterns of the state and judge how to build roads that would stand high rainfall year after year?
The government put off enforcement of new traffic penalty regime on the plea that it must improve the roads first. That was yet another admission of giving Goans horrible roads in lieu of the taxes and surcharges they have been paying and continue to pay, despite the quality in roads missing. What is worse, the state is going to repair potholes only on the state highways, MDR and other roads when most Goans use National Highways which too are full of potholes. The state government must include National Highways too. PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar cannot make good roads without making his engineers and contractors to do their jobs honestly.