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Contractors digging and re-digging roads without ensuring alternative streets for motorists

The chaos inflicted as a result of execution of works related to 'Smart City' projects in the capital city has returned to the streets of the capital Panaji day in and day out, haunting residents and the thousands of daily visitors as well. This time, it is even worse than the 10 months of chaos the city faced in the 10-month October-June period of 2022-23, what with contractors digging trenches and filling them before redigging them after a few days.

The chaotic traffic situation faced in commuting within and also in and out of the city on a daily basis is testing the patience of the citizens to the hilt even as Revenue Minister Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate, who represents Panaji has solicited 'patience' from the citizens until the work is over in June next year.

Bizmen face the worst

Small businesses and traders who mostly operate from ground-floor shops of the many high rise buildings of the capital city have faced the worst of the brunt. Not only is their business badly affected due to a drastic decline in footfalls but they being on the ground floor have to face the worst of the unbearable dust pollution caused by traffic movement on the dusty roads.

"Worse is that no one consults us about the schedule of the work. Suddenly a truck comes with some workers and they begin marking the road. Within a couple of hours they bring the excavator and dig the entire stretch of road and we are caught unaware," said a group of traders in the heart of the city near the CCP market.

Most of the traders and businessmen in the capital that The Goan spoke to vent their anger and accused those in charge of executing the work without the courtesy of consulting residents or the business and trading community so that they are prepared and make some alternative arrangements to minimize the hardship.

Interestingly, none of Panaji's prominent business owners were willing to come on record with their comments as they fear they could be harassed by the authorities. They however said that the execution of the Smart City projects could have been planned better and implemented one zone at a time.

"They have dug up roads in the entire city. However the work is being carried out only in one section of the city and there is no activity whatsoever in the rest of the area where roads are left dug up," said one tradesman who wished to stay annonymous.

He citied the example of the road alongside the 'Vishal Supermart" which he said was dug up and work executed to make it a 'smart road' in a single 21-day stretch. But in the case of most other streets, they are dug for over two months now and no work of the 'smart road' project is being carried out, he added.

"Perhaps the contractor does not have the capacity to hire enough hands to implement the 'smart road' work simultaneously across all sections of the capital city," the trader said.

The section of the city's business hit the most are the many restaurants.

"Footfalls have dropped drastically. Even with the peak tourism season setting in we are not getting a satisfactory number of guests. It is clearly because of the smart city work which is causing so much inconvenience to daily commuters," said one restaurateur operating in the city for over four decades.

Smart roads

The IPSCL has taken up four stretches of roads for redevelopment as 'smart roads' -- the road running parallel to the Rua de Ourem creek from the Old Patto bridge to the Four Pillars junction at Portais, the stretch from St Inez junction near Taj Vivanta up to the Goa International Hotel T-junction at Tonca-Miramar and the one connecting the Bal Bhavan-Campal Clinic road besides other North-South roads within the city.

So far, only the Bal Bhavan-Campal Clinic smart road -- a stretch of hardly 150-200 metres -- has been completed and commissioned. GSUDA is the agency executing the smart roads work.

Of the others, work is being executed only in St Inez along the Taj Vivanta to Goa International Hotel stretch. Additionally some of the internal streets in the city are also taken up but while all are dug, work is being carried out one stretch at a time, adding to the traffic woes.

Blind eye to safety measures

Meanwhile, there is no sign of any of the safety measures that need to be put in place when roads are excavated. Road signs for traffic diversion, for instance, have not been put up anywhere in the city.

It was stipulated when the North Goa collector permitted excavation of roads that the contractor deploy maximum traffic marshals round-the-clock to guide motorists and regulate vehicular traffic. On the ground there is not a single marshal visible.

Two other conditions -- installation of red lamps/lights for clear visibility at night and ban on dumping construction material on the roads -- have also been violated with impunity by IPSCDL and its contractors.

New deadline: June 2024

The 'smart city' nightmare for residents and visitiors to the capital city is now expected to continue for another 6-7 months with the Union housing and urban affairs ministry setting a June 2024 deadline for completion of the smart city works.

Less than half of the 35 projects totally worth Rs 936 crore being implemented by IPSCDL with an expenditure of just over Rs 341 crore are completed as of mid-November this year.

The balance 19 projects worth over Rs 594 crore are in implementation stage and the ministry has extended the time limit for implementation up to June 2024.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Ashley Do Rosario

Quelle/Source: The Goan, 16.12.2023

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