The road leading to my apartment building in Hyderabad was just torn up, repaved, cured then released to the dogs of traffic. It was several weeks of nuisance, but necessary: the road had so many six-inch-deep potholes it was nearly impassable.But here’s the thing: the same thing happened last year. And probably the year before.
I see it happening all over Hyderabad, and India. Roads barely a year or two old are so riddled with potholes you can barely drive on them. Eventually, someone gets around to fixing them.
Rinse, wash, repeat.Who pays for all this redoing roads very year? YOU DO!!! I DO! All of us do, through taxes.Is there a way to stop it? Of course. It’s called rebar, and it works.Is it expensive, building a road that lasts, say, 10-20 years? Darn right it is. Quality costs money.
But, when you factor in all the costs of rebuilding a road each year — the destruction and construction costs, the costs of extra petrol and lost time because of increased traffic, the contribution to global warming due to car engines running longer, the plain nuisance value of it all — well, I’d venture to say the 10-20 year road costs less. Way less.
So why isn’t it done this way? My Indian pals tell me that if it were done this way, construction companies and government officials taking payoffs each year would lose a lot of money. And they’re not keen to lose a lot of money, so they keep building crappy roads.
Is there a solution? I have a few recommendations:
1) Force companies to offer a five-year warranty. If they don’t keep roads they’ve constructed up to snuff during that time, they don’t get any more contracts to build more roads.
2) Set up an application, for smartphones, so that citizens can take photos of potholes and send them to a central location with the GPS setting attached to the photo. This is already done in several western countries, so the technology is readily available. Any road that gets, say, 10 independent reports of potholes in a year voids the warranty, and automatically precludes the company that built the road from building more. Hard to pay off everyone in the city!
3) To stop companies from folding, and springing up with the same principals under new operating names, require that all companies must be up, running, and have tendered contracts for at least five years to bid on new contracts. New companies can bid only if none of the principals are involved in any other companies that have bid in the previous five years.
Is this easy stuff to do? No. Are there ways to cheat the system? Yes. Can those ways to cheat it be ironed out over time? Probably. Is it worth it? It is. Good roads makes traffic flow better, which reduces shipping times and increases productivity. It also reduces road deaths, an area where India holds the dubious distinction of being the world leader.I hate driving on potholed roads. I hate even more watching our taxes go to re-building roads that were constructed just last year.
Time to end it.
You can reach The Anonymous Alien at AnonymousAlieninIndia@gmail.com