A loud “thump” on Dr. Balasundaram Road in the city makes heads turn towards a car that is overtaking another in fading daylight. The sound makes them think that one vehicle has hit the other. But, it is actually the sound of the wheel of the overtaking car hitting a half-foot deep pothole.
Unaware of the pothole, a motorcycle rider hits it. The impact sends a mobile phone flying out of his pocket. Cell phones, bones and two-wheeler parts break on this and at least three more potholes on this stretch.A closer look reveals that these are not potholes caused because of deteriorating condition of a road.
These are pits deliberately created to provide access to the underground drainage. When roads are re-laid, their surface rises above the manhole.Inside the pits are manholes that the Coimbatore Corporation’s workers will open if there is a block in the sewer line.
Corporation sources say it is not possible to lay the road over the manhole because the surface will have to be dug when a block in the drainage line has to be removed.A couple of years ago, people cursed manholes that projected above the road level. Now, the situation has swung to the other extreme where manholes are in open pits.
A manhole lid rises above the road on Kaleeswara Mill Road at Kattoor, as if to remind people of the problem they faced earlier. But, in most of the other places they are comfortably placed in the pits, at the cost of the road users. Three such pits threaten to topple two-wheeler riders and cyclists on West Periasamy Road in R.S. Puram.
One of these is haphazardly covered with some stones and a layer of tar that seek to provide some protection. Two hospitals and a school are located on West Periasamy Road.Many students are brought to the school on two-wheelers or they ride cycles, says a regular user of this road, pointing at the risk posed to them.The situation is worse at night when trees block most of the light coming from the lamps installed by the civic body.
People familiar with the road condition escape. Those who are not familiar with it hit the potholes and fall, he says.Agreeing that this a life-threatening problem, Mayor R. Venkatachalam says the only option now is to close the holes with tar-mixed blue metal. “We can release orders for raising the drainage level after the Lok Sabha elections,” he says.
The Mayor says he himself came across five such potholes on Cox Street near the Avanashi Road Flyover.“These potholes pose a serious threat even after the roads have been re-laid. While re-laying a road, the level of the drainage chamber has to be raised first. We will look at finding a temporary solution immediately,” he says.