Potholes on Chennai highways now getting reported and repaired

The Namma Saalai app can be an effective tool to bring bad roads to the attention of authorities, but it could do with improved usability.

On a road as busy as the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), there are many challenges residents and commuters face because of bad road infrastructure — some of these include the increased risk of accidents and traffic hold-ups that come with potholes.

On discovering and using the ‘Namma Saalai’ app to fix potholes on the OMR, we, at the Federation of OMR Resident Associations (FOMRRA) decided to bring awareness about the app. We not only posted about it on our X (Twitter) account, @fomrra, but also encouraged and educated several RWAs to use the app and benefit from it.

pothole fixed
The above stretch, a narrow service lane near Okkiyam, Thoraipakkam, was fixed after the author posted a complaint on Namma Saalai app. Pic: Swaminathan S

Read more: Staying safe while driving on Chennai roads this monsoon

This application was launched by the state government to identify potholes and any other issues on the state highways of Tamil Nadu, all through just public feedback.

Commuting a challenge on OMR

The service lanes on OMR are often misused for parking and other activities. Pic: Swaminathan S

The Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) is now handling repair and maintenance of the roads because of the metro work that is taking place on OMR. Even though some roads have been temporarily repaved, stop line markings are missing from traffic signals. The roadways are extremely narrow now that a lane has been blocked for Metro construction. As a result, commuters are increasingly using the service lane.

But, problems arise mostly because the service lane is often misused for parking and other activities. The authorities must respond appropriately to address this issue, because it makes commuting difficult, especially during peak hours.

namma saalai app
The Namma Saalai app has a simple interface and is user-friendly.

Based on my experience of using the app, I found it user-friendly with its simple interface and the option to switch the language to Tamil. Once the problem is reported through the app, the action taken to fix the potholes is prompt and effective; When the authorities fix the issue, you get an update on the app, occasionally even with an image.

A stretch of OMR near BRS Mall, which was fixed by CMRL following a complaint on Namma Saalai app. Pic: Swaminathan S

Some improvements needed

However, this application only addresses potholes on major highways and roads maintained by the Highways Department. This software does not handle issues pertaining to roads maintained by local bodies. Another issue is that the app occasionally reports a network error.

Read more: Explainer: When can you sue your municipal body for accidents due to potholes?

Following the December 2023 floods brought on by Cyclone Michaung and the damages that came with it, FOMRRA took up awareness drives to educate RWAs to use this facility. Residents of Jains Pebble Brook, Hiranandani, Smart Town and Vaikundam Sundaram have reported potholes near them and got them fixed promptly.

Overall, it is a useful app and a step in the right direction for our developing Tamil Nadu. But as the roads in this area are under the control of CMRL, the app isn’t of much use right now. In the future it would be helpful if the app could cover local body-maintained roads as well.

The more we utilise this app to inform the authorities about road infrastructure, the better our roads will be. With the help of this app, citizens can help achieve the goal of ‘clean and safe roads’ for the city and State.

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