News

Paying road tax / tolls for bad roads

Fortunately, my car slowed down to a crawl before we hit the pothole and no damage was done, but the driver who thought he could overtake me ended up crashing through it.

govindremesh recently shared this with other BHPians.

This is an annexure to the previously discussed topic, but this thread is specifically for linking road tax to the quality of state highways and city roads.

Recently while driving in Kerala utilizing internal roads and state highways, I encountered a 5 hm stretch which looked like the road in the image below (for people in Kerala, it's the stretch between Ottapalam and Cherupulaserry). The entire stretch looked like the government started repairing the roads and abandoned it mid way.

This was heartbreaking for me since I was driving a low slung sedan with brand new tires (less than 2 weeks old). I'll add to my complaint list, the amount of dust that was being thrown up due to this half-finished road which might have clogged my car's new air filter, or the flying stones that might have caused minor damage to underbody and paint.

Once back on the "highway", I started cruising at around 60 km/h on what seemed like perfectly maintained roads, but my 6th sense told me that it was too good to be true, especially in Kerala. As expected, a huge pothole (crater?) came up for which I had to slam the brakes. Fortunately, my car slowed down to a crawl before we hit the pothole and no damage was done, but the driver who thought he could overtake me ended up crashing through it. Fortunately for him, he was driving a Bolero.

The quality of state highways and city roads are a mixed bag. In the past, I've driven in AP, TN, GJ and MH. The state highways in GJ and MH are pretty good IMO, with A.P. state highways being the worst (Ref: Rajamundry to Vijayawada), T.N. is more or less similar to KL, maybe slightly better. This made me wonder: What are we paying road tax for?

The National Highways? Aren't NH funded by the central government for which we already pay via our income tax and individual highway tolls? Since the road tax is state specific, if the state doesn't build good roads, don't we as a consumer have a right to deny paying road tax? The problem is made worse considering we have to pay a 15-year lump sum road tax upfront at the time of vehicle purchase. Further, I am not aware of any law that helps one get a refund from the regional transportation authority if the roads are never repaired. I think the least the state governments can do is stop collecting tax in lump sum and make it an annual deduction.

In the specific case of Kerala, we are famous for executing road development projects that run into decades (Alapuzha bypass took 40 years to complete!), or performing a shoddy job (the brand new Palarivattom flyover is being rebuilt in Kochi). As a Malayalee, I do wonder why I owe the Kerala Government any road tax when the roads in the state have been bad since the beginning of my memory? In the rare case where roads are good, they're so narrow that 2 trucks won't be able to pass each other. Want official proof of bad roads in KL? Read This!

I know this is a sensitive topic and probably my understanding is limited on how road tax works, but I'm curious to know the views of fellow BHPians.

Thanks to govindremesh once again! Check out BHPian comments for more insights & information.

Image Source: India Content

 
Seat belts save lives