SRINAGAR: Roads, the main support system of modern life, are turning into a major annoyance for people in the Kashmir valley. Many see commuting as a great hassle in their everyday activites, in some cases even leading to accidents.
The challenge of commuting on dusty, potholed roads takes a toll on the health of motorists as well as pedestrians. The government, commuters say, has failed to make timely repairs after weather and unplanned development works “leave the roads dilapidated”.
“I drive to work every day and spend at least an hour and a half in traffic jams,” says Mohsin Shah, a resident of Badamwari.
“The underside of my car hits the tarmac at dozens of places between Badamwari and Sempoor My car goes for repair every month,” she futher said.
This is just one example of people’s anguish about the bad roads in the valley. Residents of Parimpora, Budshah Nagar, Batmaloo, Ranthchowk, Qawamari, Hawal, Khayam, Khanayar, Iqbal Colony, Bemina and Noorbagh all complain of similar problems.
The roads leading to most of these areas are bumpy and dotted with potholes. Residents complain that transporters are reluctant to ply their vehicles on these roads, forcing residents to walk. “Employees and students suffer the most. They fail to make it to work and classes in time as the public transport barely plies on these dilapidated roads,” said Mohammad Farooq Bhat, a resident of Bemina. “A lot of auto drivers and bikers have lost control on these roads, and scores of vehicles have been damaged.”
The state administration must gear up to repair the roads in Kashmir, invariably battered as they are after snow and rain, with potholes everywhere. At Jehangir Chowk, the authorities have removed the surface of the road, thus creating an excavation at the site which is in any case prone to accidents. Similarly, near Lal Chowk mechanised parking, Tourist Reception Centre and Polo View there are potholes of the sizes of ditches. On Sonwar-Pantha Chowk road also there are many potholes that cause inconvenience to both pedestrians and people driving on this road.
The roads are either bumpy and dotted with potholes or have construction material lying on them. Due to this, the transporters ply their vehicles at a snail’s pace here, causing passengers to prrfer to walk to reach their respective destinations.
“It is difficult to slow down a vehicle all of a sudden when these potholes are suddenly encountered, and they lead to fatal road accidents,” said Waseem Ahmad, a bus driver
He said they are clueless about these potholes, speed breakers and authorities have turned deaf ears towards the issue.
An official at the Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department, who wished not to be named, told Kashmir Reader, “If patchwork is done with the proper method, it will be successful, but unfortunately the field officers do it in a haphazard manner. The standard procedure is that the irregular potholes are to be cut in rectangular or square shapes before filling them. This is not being done. There should be a team of officials for field supervision,” he said.
He said that the city’s poor drainage system is the main reason for its bad roads. “The poor drainage leads to accumulation of water on roads and eventually washes off a patch or leaves the road with potholes. There has to be more stringent quality control, especially with regard to the construction material used for building roads. Rigid pavement, where roads are cemented, is the solution to these problems. It is costly but it is the permanent solution,” he further said.
“There is no proper planning carried out by the engineers to assess the condition of the roads. What they do is to put gravel into the potholes and then a layer of tar is splashed over it,” said another official at the R&B Department.
He said the shape and size of the gravel and stones used in fixing potholes is important. He also said that the patchwork should not be carried out by ordinary labourers. “There is a need for technical labourers who have knowledge of the work. This will also save time and money,” he further said.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, R&B Chief Enginer Sami Arif said, “Repairing and patch work of roads will be started soon, this year we’ve got a good budget and we will cover all roads of Srinagar city.”