Kingston Street, Richmond Town lies on my regular daily afternoon walking route. For months, I, and others would walk past one portion of broken footpath, and wonder what was keeping the BBMP from fixing it.
How it happened, I knew, because I was there on that day. There were thunderstorms with heavy rains in Bangalore on 3rd and 4th September 2022. Many homes in Richmond Town got flooded, as did some roads. Apartments were pumping out water from their basements. It was happening on Kingston Street. The rate of pumping was slow, so it was taking hours, and water was being released straight on the street, re-flooding it. Additionally, the street had large potholes that were getting filled with this water.
With roads also having got flooded, some local intra-city buses that were running in the area were diverted from their usual routes. It was strange to see big BMTC buses plying on smaller roads such as Kingston Street. One such bus, in an attempt to avoid the potholes, drove right over the footpath. Quite obviously, the footpath wasn’t capable of taking the weight of a passenger-filled bus. The footpath’s cement slabs broke and the left front wheel of the bus fell into it. The passengers had to get off, and it took a few strong men to lift the bus out of the hole. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Nothing much seemed to have happened to the bus, and it went on its way.
BBMP, the authority that is in-charge of footpaths, was promptly informed of the accident and the need for the footpath to be fixed, via its Sahaaya (Namma Bengaluru app), by me and possibly by others in the neighbourhood.
As I passed by this footpath every day, I regularly took pictures and repeatedly made complaints, but the hole in the footpath just continued to be there, and getting filled with garbage.
Quite surely, the hole would have been seen by the daily sweepers, the policemen who frequent the area, the BBMP engineers and other officials, over several months. Clearly, it was not an important task (pedestrians are the lowest on the priority list for the BBMP), nor an important place (no dignitary in the vicinity or moving on the route). What is one hole in the grand scheme of chaos and disorder, that is nowhere close to any salient residence?
Last week, I found that I didn’t have to avoid the hole. It was covered! The slabs used are shorter than the original, leaving a gap that they’ve filled with rubble. It’s not the neatest of jobs, but it would probably be marked as “complaint resolved”.
5 months to replace three cement slabs on this footpath.
In their hurry to fix the traffic jams by widening roads and building flyovers, the BBMP and government forgets two important things. 1. People will walk if the footpaths are fine to walk on. The elderly and disabled are prisoned in their homes because the streets are just not walkable! 2. A large portion of the roads are not usable, because they are potholed or uneven or strewn with loose soil and stones. So in my estimation, only 2/3 of the road width is navigable. Are they blinded?