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Indian Engineer Spends the Last Five Years Collecting over 50 Kilograms of Nails from City Road

Benedict Jebakumar is a man on a mission. Ever since 2012 he has dedicated his free time to sweeping Bangalore’s Outer Ring Road of metal nails deliberately put there by nearby tire puncture shops to boost their profits. In the last five years, the Indian engineer claims to have collected over 50 kilograms of metal nails from the road.

It all started when Benedict Jebakumar realized that he would often have to deal with a punctured car tire when taking the Outer Ring Road from his home in Banashankari to his office, or vice-versa. He didn’t think much of it at first, but then he noticed the many tire repair shops lining the roads, most of which were often busy fixing the tires of seemingly unlucky motorists. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that whenever he got a flat tire it would always be because of metal nails conveniently located close to one of these puncture repair shops. He went to the local authorities to report his findings and ask them to take action, but they didn’t seem to eager to help. That’s when he decided it was up to him to keep the roads clean for himself and other drivers.

Photo: My Road, My Responsibility/Facebook

Ever since 2012, Jebakumar has been combing the Outer Ring Road of Bangalore in search of metal nails. At first he would pick them up by hand, but soon realized that it was a very time consuming and ineffective method, so he built a tool to help him on his cleaning runs. He took one of his broken fishing rods and modified it by attaching magnets to one end and making it foldable. “In a way, this too is like fishing, right?” the 44-year-old systems engineer says.

Photo: My Road, My Responsibility/Facebook

Benedict leaves his home at around 7 in the morning, and stops by specific points on the Outer Ring Road, making sure they are nail-free. He does the same thing on his way back from work, because many times the miscreants running puncture repair shops will spread a new batch of nails right after he leaves. On some days, he collects so many metal nails that he fills his bags and has to return with more to finish the job. For example, on March 21st, 2016, he collected a whopping 1,654 nails off the road. He keeps all the nails he has picked up since 2012, and claims that his collection now weighs over 50 kilograms.

Photo: My Road, My Responsibility/Facebook

The voluntary road cleaner stopped driving his car to work a few years ago, for fear of suffering any more tire punctures. He now rides a bike instead and always keeps his eyes on the road to make sure he spots nails before running over them. “Thankfully, for the past year, even though it has become a menace to society, I have not had a puncture. But this is because I am extremely vigilant and keep a lookout for nails or other material on the road. So much so, that my family sometimes finds it funny,” he told Citizen Matters, two years ago.

Photo: My Road, My Responsibility/Facebook

To help raise awareness to the nail problem of Bangalore’s Outer Ring Road, Benedict Jebakumar has also set up a Facebook page called ‘My Road, My Responsibility‘, where he documents his daily “catch” and posts photos of the nails he collects. He hopes that this will help other motorists realize the dangers they expose themselves to by driving on a road riddled with traps, and inspire them to take action. The most important thing they can do, Jebakumar says, is report the problem to the local authorities. The more complaints they receive, the likelier they are to finally take appropriate action against the fraudulent tire repair shops behind the problem.

Photo: My Road, My Responsibility/Facebook

Benedict says that so far the authorities have not paid enough attention to the issue. “Two arrests have been made in the past but miscreants were released within three months and the nails were back on the road,” he told The Economic Times. Until the nail problem is solved by the city, Jebakumar plans to keep taking care of things himself, as best he can. “I will continue as I am helping many people,” he says.

Photo: My Road, My Responsibility/Facebook

Interestingly enough, in 2015, when asked by The News Minute is passersby ever stopped to ask him what he was doing with a broken fishing on the Outer Ring Road, Jebakumar realized that in three years, nobody had ever approached him about it. “It is such a fast-paced world that nobody has even observed that there is man wandering about a busy main road in search of something. They have not even noticed that these nails are potential threats to their vehicles,” he said.