The Thammanam-Pullepady bypass road located beneath the Kathrikadavu overbridge is among the many victims of Kerala Water Authority’s (KWA) inept handling of pipe-laying works.
Not a square metre of tar is visible for about a kilometre from the road’s entry point. The agency dug up the road within three months of it being tar-coated as part of Kochi Metro’s traffic diversion project. The work lagged on and finally the KWA failed to even temporarily restore the stretch.
Many months since pipe-laying work was completed, the agency is unmindful of the suffering of residents and others who depend on the road for accessing major roads in the vicinity.
The around 200 Railway employees and their families who live in the official quarters here are the worst affected. “Our happiness on seeing the road being upgraded and resurfaced was short-lived. We do not have an alternative road to rely on,” says Subramania Pillai, a Railway official.
Though a few employees travel a few kilometres more and use the road through the adjacent railway yard, security personnel discourage this practice. “Earlier, we could reach Kathrikadavu, the nearest junction, in two or three minutes. Now, we take about 10 minutes, wading through slush and mud. The KWA did not restore the road even during summer months,” Mr. Pillai said.
The road is owned by the Kochi Corporation, whose officials now face the ire of road users. “We had to give permission for pipe-laying works since it was crucial for augmenting water supply to West Kochi under the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission). Under the scheme, we even handed over to KWA funds for road restoration work. But the agency failed to strengthen the surface with metal and tar coat it,” said Soumini Jain, chairperson of Kochi Corporation’s Works Standing Committee.
Stakeholders who own roads blamed the KWA for the tardy pace at which works are carried out, bad work-site management and the agency’s reluctance to restore the road to a motorable condition. Examples are aplenty in Kochi including Chilavanoor Road, Alinchuvadu-Vennala Road, numerous roads in West Kochi and Tripunithura.
Officials of the KWA did not have any convincing answer or justification for the road’s light.
Raju Gregory, another Railway employee said he and his wife had fallen on the slushy road while he was riding his motorbike on the pothole-riddled stretch.
“Auto drivers flatly refuse to ply in the area, affecting aged persons and those who want to go to hospitals. Guests have stopped visiting households in the area,” said Rajasekharan Nair, a resident.
Susheela who runs a small kiosk in the area fears getting drenched in the dirty water whenever vehicles pass by.