On November 1, BMC took to its official Twitter to announce what they called the #PotholeChallenge2019. Meant to last the entirety of this week until the 7th, citizens were invited to click a selfie with any potholes they encounter. If it remains unfixed after 24 hours, the participant is promised Rs. 500.
Each individual can win up to two times, and the first person to report a particular plothole claims the prize. All selfies have to be posted on BMC's own Fixit app designated for this purpose.
The idea seems to be a win-win at first glance: fix city streets or earn a quick buck. However, that turned out too good to be true, as there is more to the challenge meets the eye.
The Fine Print
Of course, some of the design flaws to the challenge are apparent after the initial excitement wears down.
First of all, taking a selfie with a plothole in the middle of a MUMBAI street is usually a laughably bad idea. However, making sure that it fits BMC's standards of "at least 3 inches deep or a foot wide" is downright dangerous, if attempted.
How exactly do you even go about that? Rush into the middle of the road brandishing a selfie stick in one hand and measuring tape in the other? Praying that the traffic light doesn't turn green soon?
Things only get worse from here. Apparently, the prize money for plotholes that aren't filled goes from the BMC engineers' pockets. Not the BMC itself, no, but the engineers working as hard as they can to keep up with the 879 complaints reported within a matter of four days. The employees without access to infrastructure to deal with the magnitude this challenge was bound to grow up to. Yes, accountability on their part certainly increases, but whether rightfully so or not remains a tricky question.
The Current Status
As of now, at least 85 plotholes were not attended to soon enough, which racks up a charge of Rs. 42,500 for the municipal engineers. Moreover, several citizens and activists are dismissing the "shoddy patchwork" conducted "drama" on the BMC's part.
It's hardly shocking that the absurdly large amount of work and tight deadlines leave much to be desired in terms of quality. And if there's one thing a Mumbai citizen knows to be worse than open potholes, it's the poorly covered ones. The loose fillings are bound to come apart, possibly causing even more accidents.
We're yet to see how the entire thing plays out by the end of the week, but it seems likelier by the second that the entire challenge could end up being more trouble than it's worth.