Recent accidents reveal city is a minefield for commuters

Kochi is a city laid with booby traps.

Road shoulders have turned deep trenches, potholes on arterial roads are virtually deathtraps and cables hanging loose from electrical and lamp posts are like a hangman’s noose waiting to catch unsuspecting motorists.

The tragic death of Rakhi, 39, a homemaker from Palluruthy, on Saturday night was a cruel reminder of the risks the city’s motorists are constantly exposed to.

Rakhi was crushed under a bus after she was thrown off a two-wheeler that hit a pothole on the south end of MG Road. She was the latest casualty of the deadly roads created by poor planning and callousness of authorities who often throw caution to the winds.

It was in the early hours of August 29 that Nouroz Sait, 29, from Mattancherry, died after his bike tripped on a low lying cable on a road in Palluruthy.

The accident was a wake-up call for authorities. Officials at the Corporation of Cochin were forced into some action. But nothing drastic has been done so far to clear such cables.

It is the same case with the innumerable potholes that that dot city’s roads. Not much has been done to fill them up despite the rains relenting.

The ditch that claimed Rakhi’s life was formed after the Kerala Water Authority dug up the spot to plug a leak in a pipeline to Fort Kochi.

A senior engineer of the Public Works Department said the spot was filled up and concreted. “The concrete had become loose in recent rain. The spot will be taken care of immediately,” he said.

K.J. Sohan, the City Corporation’s Town Planning Standing Committee chairman, said action was being taken against the use of lamp, electrical and other posts along roads to prevent hanging cables. He said illegally installed cables had been cut in several places and action would to be taken after Onam.

On Sunday, a walk along Sahodaran Ayyappan Road showed that cables were hanging low and in random fashion on a dozen lamp posts.

This poses a grave threat to motorists, especially two-wheeler riders. The risk is severe at night and in the early hours as natural light is poor.

It is the traffic police that often end up clearing these hanging hazards, even though it is not their responsibility to do so.

“The police have had to cut these loose cables or tie them up many times to prevent them form posing danger to the public,” said K.S. Baby Vinod, Assistant Commissioner, Traffic West.

On Sunday afternoon, personnel from the traffic department were seen securing to an electrical post a loose cable on the road near the Ernakulam Guest House.

The three policemen took nearly half-an-hour to tie the cable. They managed to get it out of the way of motorists as the Onam shopping spree reached a fever pitch.

Usually, the police, being the most visible public authority, are the first to be approached when people find telephone or television cables hanging across roads, according to one of the officers.

“The City Corporation or Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has to give sanction to install cables .

So, when we get complaints, we send notices to these authorities,” said Mr. Vinod. If the responsible bodies do not take action, the police, sometimes, with the help of the Fire and Rescue Services Personnel, cut or tie the cables. 

The sharp and steep edges of some of the roads in the city are potential hazards too. The sharp edge to the road near Vyttila Junction on the Vyttila-Pettah road is an apt example. The road ends in a foot-and-a-half-deep ditch.

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