Three years after buying three Inject pothole-patching machines for Rs 78 lakh each,and having spent Rs 68 crore on their maintenance since then,the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has admitted that the machines will not make their debut on city roads even this monsoon. While the three machines,meant for crucial pothole repairs on the financial capitals notorious roads,lie idle for the fourth year in a row,the BMC has now approached the original patent holders of the Jet-Patcher technology,Jet-Patcher Corporation,to bring their machines from New Zealand and use them during monsoon.
The civic body,following a demonstration in the last week of June,will give the contract for pothole repairs to the firm. The BMC,having caught flak for buying the machines in 2008 and not being able to use them,is now playing it safe and will not buy the new machines.
Chief Engineer (Roads) Ravindra Ghodke said that the BMC is identifying chronic stretches and Jet-Patcher Corporation will be given contracts to work on these stretches. Since the machines that we purchased in 2008 were from another company using the Jet-Patching technology,we want to experiment with the original patent and see if it works for Mumbai. The company will bring the machines from New Zealand,use their own skilled labour to operate them and we will pay them accordingly, said Ghodke.
In 2008,the BMC purchased three Crafco AT Inject Patching machines for spot repairs of potholes. The machines were supposed to repair potholes within hours,while conventional pothole repairs take at least 48 hours.
The BMC then went on to spend Rs 68 crore on repair and maintenance of the machines. Yet,engineers were unable to use them due to technical glitches,including lack of expertise to operate them,narrow roads,the shape of potholes,among others. Last year,the BMC decided to approach the patent-holder,Jet-Patcher Corporation,after realising that the Inject machines it had purchased were not of much use in Mumbais conditions.
Asked about what the BMC plans to do with the three idle machines,an official from the roads department said that tenders are to be floated,inviting contractors to use the machines to fill potholes. We will float tenders but we are not hopeful that anyone will bid as these machines are not usable in Indian conditions, he said.