|RIDE AT YOUR OWN PERIL: Vehicles negotiate the potholed and brick-plugged Kokar stretch of NH-33 on Wednesday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
The pothole-riddled stretch near Kokar Chowk in the heart of Ranchi is not any old road, though it looks like one.
Part of Jharkhand’s arterial connect — the 352km NH-33 from Barhi in Hazaribagh to Bahragora in East Singhbhum — its shoddy upkeep shows how a highway can be reduced to a dirt track.
The NH-33 wends its way to Ranchi from Barhi and Ramgarh and goes to Jamshedpur. From Barhi to Neori in Ranchi, it is a four-lane highway. Just 15km inside the city in Kokar, it is a potholed and watery nightmare for the nearly 20,000 vehicles that cross the stretch everyday.
If one goes 500 metres from Kokar Chowk towards Dipatoli (cantonment area), one finds numerous deep potholes on a 50m stretch in the middle of the road, forcing vehicles plying elsewhere at 40kmph to crawl at 5kmph at this point.
To worsen woes, sewage from nearby residential localities fills up potholes and extends the slush for at least a kilometre.
“Everyday, we witness at least two-three minor accidents. Vehicles bump into each other on suddenly noticing potholes. It is a very tough stretch to negotiate on a two-wheeler,” said Satyendra Lal, a resident of Kokar Dhelatoli, who commutes everyday on the difficult road.
But it is difficult to avoid this nightmare stretch. Commuters on their way to Mega Sports Complex, Khel Gaon, State Museum or Ram Dayal Munda Rajakiya Kala Bhavan in Hotwar would have to pass through this portion of the NH-33 at Kokar.
The stretch was repaired in monsoon by road construction department (NH, Ranchi division), which gets funds from Union ministry of road transport and highways.
Though the intention was noble — the department acted fast and repaired the damage overnight after a bicycle-borne youth fell and broke his kneecap — the patchwork job fell apart in months.
In the absence of any further repairs, some local youths on Wednesday embarked upon another patchwork job, filling up potholes with bricks and chips to level it.
Long-suffering residents of the area point out why repairs don’t last.
“Unless the road construction department constructs drainage alongside the road on this particular stretch, the road’s condition will never improve. Wastewater from homes continues to flow all year through. The next time the department repairs the road, it should also dig drains,” said Manas Choudhary, Kokar resident.
When contacted, Rajiv Lochan, executive engineer of road construction department (NH, Ranchi division) said he would look into the problem.
“We will soon repair the highway at the stretch,” he promised.
Till that happens, it seems improvised repair by residents would have to do.
Did you recently ride a bike on the NH-33 pothole point?