CITYSCAPE Here’s a look at why Chennai roads don’t need speed breakers… MRUDULA AADURU
Swoooosh…speed limit exceeding 50kmph, 60kmph, 70…80… the wind wailing like a tremendous tempest of unimaginable magnitude…and then WHAM! Oops! A speed breaker! Was it really a speed breaker? Whatever it was, the motorcyclist would never dare to try that stunt again, at least not in Chennai!!
A walk on a footpath (if there was any) in Chennai would be any enlightening experience for a first timer. The roads stretching out, from the edge of the footpath till the place where it is punctuated by potholes, drainage pipes, manholes, huge pits… (all of it just a few inches from the footpath). Surely, the walk is nothing less than a macabre experience for a first timer. The work (drilling the “roads”) starts at about 4:00 a.m. It is meticulous, careful and planned. The workers make sure that the noise is enough to get the late risers out of bed and into their morning walk. Have you ever seen people who can be more thoughtful? The work is always the same. They also have a rhythmic touch, in order, to make the whole thing more enjoyable. A drill, a pause, a drill, a pause, a drill…
The real traffic starts at about 10:00 a.m. But, the masters of the road never stop their work. They are the most hardworking people you can ever meet. By 6:00 p.m., one might think they are tired. But no! They have to start welding. The pipes will then be lowered down into the colossal pits and then closed again. The peers of the realm will then retire for the day. Just as the work is at its peak (the amount of mud excavated also at its zenith), a reporter from a reputable newspaper or magazine will take a snap and then, publish with a caption saying “Workers, take the roads for granted. The above photograph shows the blah blah road”. The people responsible (not the workers, certainly) will immediately hush up the matter, with huge cans of tar and black acrid smoke (of course, they want to lay roads)! The preposterously marvellous road roller will roll on the “new road” and, thus, a new road is born.
But the relief of a new road is shortlived. Three months later, workers start their routine digging to lay telephone lines. The whole process is repeated and then they dig the roads again to lay storm water drains (what happened to water scarcity in Chennai?). The roads are laid again and again. The blatant incapability of the people responsible is transparent and thanks to them, the hospitals run on the medical bills of emergency cases. As for that motorcyclist, he has adapted to Chennai roads by now…
Mrudula is a student of Architecture at SRM IST.
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