Benjamin, a student of Assisi Vidyaniketan Public School, had to deal with flat cycle tyre more than once ever since the start of this monsoon. And what’s puncturing his cycle tyres? The sharp rocks popping out of the broken surface of Ayyanad Bridge near the school on the Palarivattom-Kakkanad Road.
The road takes thousands daily to important offices in the city — district collectorate, Infopark, and the Cochin Special Economic Zone at Kakkanad. And most of them have a story to tell about how they managed to weave around or drove into a hole that smashed their car’s rim, popped out the tyre and mangled suspension.
It is one stretch in the city where driving snacks on your physical and mental energy. Velayudhan, an autorickshaw driver at the Padamugal junction, said traffic snarls have become common fixture during peak morning and evening hours on the road.
“Often we are forced to fill up the potholes using the stone chips that have washed off in the rain. Only this morning we had to mend the road a few meters away from the Padamugal junction,” he said while rearranging the gravel on the edge of the road.
Public Works Department (PWD) admitted that the road has become a source of major concern. “Arrangements had been made for surfacing the road using the modern bituminous macadam and bituminous concrete (BMBC) method. The onset of monsoon soon after the work was launched from Palarivattom junction disrupted the entire plan,” said P.P. Benny, Executive Engineer, PWD.
He said the holes were being filled by the contractor concerned using bitumen emulsion from time to time to improve the situation somewhat. This will be done through out the rains after which the road will be surfaced. Mr. Benny said the contractor had not been paid so far.
Aji Abraham, the contractor, said the onset of monsoon as soon as the base layer using bituminous macadam was laid in a few portions at Palarivattom junction cost him Rs. 30 lakh. “The base layer should have an average thickness of five meters while the top layer of bitumen concrete should have standard thickness of 2.5 metres. The thickness is measured after laying both the base and top layers based on which bills are cleared by the PWD,” he said. By the time an agreement was placed and PWD conducted a road level report, it was already May. Even then the work could be held only during night to avoid traffic disruption, Mr. Abraham said reasoning the delay in the execution of work.
Even otherwise the road was a nightmare for motorists thanks to its narrowness and the situation has only worsened with rain washing away stretches of the road at many points including, Pipeline, Alinchuvadu, Vazhakkala, and Padamaugal.
“The bad condition of the road has considerably slowed down the traffic and it’s often left to us to regulate the traffic,” said Nazeer, a head-load worker affiliated to CITU.
Ismail, an autorickshaw driver for two decades, said he had never seen the road in such a bad condition before. “Our vehicles are suffering because of the road and that burdens us further. With the road in such a bad condition, most of us have stopped operating in the night,” he said.
Siyad, a casual labourer, said that with the road is such a mess the traffic needs to be regulated by erecting a traffic signal at Padamugal junction so that there is no uncontrolled entry of vehicles from the Palachuvadu-Padamugal road to the already choked Palarivattom-Kakkanad Road.