REPORTING potholes can no longer be done through the BMC’s once-popular pothole tracking system, as it has now been scrapped. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who decided to scrap the system last month, has instead proposed the use of Facebook as the new platform where pothole-related complaints can be registered.
The move, however, has been slammed by activists and ALM members, who fear that the system on social media will not be efficient and there will no longer be any accountability.
The pothole-tracking system, which was launched in 2011, was a transparent system benefitting citizens who wanted to report a pothole with the guarantee of a response within 48 hours from the contractor concerned. The system recorded complaints using geographic information system as well as the GPS. The BMC was spending around Rs 1 crore annually on the system. The new method on Facebook, once launched, will allow people to post complaints about potholes with pictures, which will be monitored by the IT department.
The scrapping of the tracking system, however, has become a point of concern for citizens who stated that without GPS and GIS, it would be impossible to find the potholes.
“Scrapping the system because it got a single bidder is a lame excuse. If the BMC advertises well enough, it would surely get more bidders. Complaining on Facebook will never be the same since there are no location markers. How will the IT department be able to control posts not relevant to potholes,” asked Anil Joseph, chairperson of the Perry Roads Residents Association. He added that if the BMC had to scrap the system, they should have started the complaint platform on Facebook while the system was still active, for a smooth transition.
Rajkumar Sharma of Diamond Garden ALM stated that the use of social media would take away accountability from the entire system. “The scrapping of the pothole-tracking system shows that the BMC want the contractors to get away with murder of pothole victims. The previous system was good. I have personally used it and the complaints were addressed as well. The system should not have been scrapped,” he said.
Mehjabeen Barwani of Juhu Church Road ALM was dismayed to find out that the pothole tracking system has been scrapped since she was in the process of forming a group with the other resident associations in the area to collectively report potholes on the system before the upcoming monsoon. “The previous system was streamlined and accessible to all. Facebook would have limitations since people who are not signed up for the popular social media application would be unable to access the complaint platform,” she added.
The pothole tracking system was previously being run by Probitysoft and their contract ended on November last year which was not renewed. Even after another round of bidding, there was only a single bidder which led to the scrapping of the system altogether. “The tendering process would only receive response from a single tender and the system was being monopolised which cannot be tolerated. The BMC has a huge IT department and they are working out a system using social media,” said Mehta, He added that the IT department will be monitoring the complaints on the new system which will be launched on Facebook.