External road safety auditors are back in favour. In 2015, the BMC had decided to do away with third-party auditors after 10 employees of two firms were found involved in the multi-crore road repair scam. But, on Thursday, it issued an e-tender notice for the appointment of three consultants to supervise road works for a three-year period.
The selected auditors, a senior BMC official said, would only be involved in monitoring major road repairs undertaken by the BMC after monsoon. “We want to appoint international-level firms…Their scope of work would include going on site, checking upon the execution and workmanship and also bring to note any major design changes, if required,” said the official. “This will reduce the burden on the civic teams currently monitoring works across the city.”
Not only do tainted contractors return to the BMC system, it is now clear that tainted categories such as ‘independent road auditors’ are rehabilitated too. This time, though, when the BMC makes these appointments, it must fix a mechanism for checks and accountability, without which the whole exercise would be meaningless. Since auditors were implicated in the road repairs scam, it is the BMC’s responsibility to ensure that such scandals aren’t repeated and that the city’s roads, above all, are good.
But opposition party leader in the BMC, Ravi Raja, pointed out that instead of outsourcing the work, the BMC should train its own engineers or recruit more engineers solely for road audits. “If BMC forms its own audit team, it would ensure that there is better accountability…Our past experience with consultants has not been very good,” he said.
In 2015, the road repair scam came to light after then mayor Snehal Ambekar wrote to then municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta about the inferior quality of roads and corruption. An inquiry had examined a total 234 roads and concluded that the construction and repair work were substandard and revealed the involvement of civic officials, contractors and road safety auditors. The auditors were required to certify the contractors’ work, but they did not flag off the BMC about the shoddy repair work, said officials.Source: Times of India