A meeting chaired by General Education Minister V. Sivankutty and Transport Minister Antony Raju on Thursday decided to issue notices to the contractors demanding timely completion of the ongoing smart road works in the capital.
The smart road works under the city Corporation’s Smart City project have been dragging on due to delays on the part of the contractors, who are found to be sub-contracting the works to others who are not sufficiently equipped to implement the work.
Out of the 40 smart road projects, work is under way on 16 stretches currently and the Charithraveedhi road has been opened for traffic. The work on six roads are in the final stages and will be completed before April 25, while the work on the remaining 10 stretches will be completed by the end of May, in time for the monsoons. The remaining work will be taken up only after this, to reduce inconvenience to passengers.
It has been decided to carry out weekly monitoring of all the ongoing works to ensure that the deadlines are met. Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Limited will appoint officials to oversee each of the projects. According to a Corporation official, the contractors hired by the Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) were all qualified for the smart road works on paper, but were woefully inadequate to take up the work. Most of these are joint ventures between multiple contractors, who have used a clause that allows joint ventures in the Smart City guidelines.
The contractors would then sub-contract the work to another entity. Many of these sub-contractors do not have enough machinery or skilled labourers, often affecting the pace and quality of the work. Whenever serious complaints arise, the main contractors change the sub-contracted company and bring another one in its place. This often affects the quality of the work too.
Discontinuing the deal with a contractor citing delays or quality of work is also a hard choice, as the contractors have the option of approaching courts and getting a stay. Also, the tender process for finding another contractor would further delay the ongoing projects by months. So, the only choice available is to engage the current set of contractors with strict monitoring to ensure that the work is completed as per the revised schedule.
Mayor Arya Rajendran; District Collector Navjot Khosa; and officials of the KRFB, Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Limited, Kerala State Electricity Board and the Kerala Water Authority; were present in the meeting.