Mumbai – Maximum City, Maximum Chaos. Reality is a brutal pull-down. No matter how many Shanghai/Singapore announcements are made, they’re just pipe-dreams.
The municipal corporation and their merry band of thieves that masquerade as contractors, are continuously in the news for one scam after the other. This is true across departments, but nothing is more glaring, than with the roads department. Having used every form of transportation possible, from various two-wheelers, to autorickshaws, BEST buses, cabs and private cars over the past 20-odd years, I can safely say, that there’s not a 100 metre stretch that is built to motorable standards.
It was however, when I happened to ride in the back of ambulances that things boiled over enough to warrant this post. Blessed as we were to find the right people and facilities during the health emergency, it did involve a fair bit of time in an ambulance. And it was here that the realization sank in deep, that this city has run its course.
It is tough to satisfactorily explain just how much is wrong with our road network. It begins with a flawed design input, with a glaring lack of planning or research appearing to have gone into what happens to be such a vital public connectivity issue. The irony is that Mumbai pays some of the highest rates for fuel, our road taxes are high and to add to the misery, we’re charged a ransom in terms of toll-rates. Yet, every intersection, any kilometer long stretch of road and each of the flyovers on the Western Express Highway is a disaster on the design/planning front.
The blunders continue, because of the shoddy workmanship and maintenance standards, which means every patch of road is dug up or leveled haphazardly. There’s zero application of motoring safety standards and worse, everyday commonsense as well. But it is the on-going Metro construction work that has finally broken the back of Mumbai.
There’s no denying the crying need for a modern transportation grid in a city like Mumbai. The government however, in their infinite wisdom, has given their nod to simultaneous Metro construction work across all the key roads in the city. Adding to the agony, is the fact that the Metro construction work in the maximum of cases, is being carried out over the most motorable patches of whatever roads we had left.
Forced into this sad game of survival, immune to the losses of those around us, we’re too concerned about making it through the day. The result – no one giving an inch to an Ambulance even with its siren wailing – as I have experienced, as recently as yesterday!