Vast portions of National Highways that pass through the city do not have street lights, making them prone to accidents and crime.
The busy stretch from Alexander Parambithara toll bridge located on the western side of Kundanoor Bridge to the Mattancherry BOT bridge does not have street lighting, despite being used by pedestrians, two wheelers, light vehicles and plenty of container-laden lorries. The road passes through the area owned by Cochin Port Trust (CPT).
Neither the PWD (NH wing), which maintains NH 49, nor Kochi Corporation and municipal bodies are bothered about the plight of pedestrians and motorists, despite the isolated stretch having plenty of steep curves. It is also used every day by thousands of tourists visiting Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. The PWD (NH) has not lit up the road, despite a hefty toll being collected from motorists using the stretch.
Now, people are pinning their hopes on Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council’s (DTPC) scenic walkway project, which has been a non-starter so far. The 2.5-km-long walkway, expected to cost Rs.9 crore, is expected to come up on the waterfront along the stretch.
Though the DTPC had entrusted KITCO with its execution, the CPT has taken over the project. “The work has begun on the first phase – a walkway covering 350 metres from the Mattancherry BOT Bridge,” said DTPC secretary T.N. Jayasankar.
The project’s architect, S. Gopakumar, said his plan includes the type of lights that must be installed and trees that are ideal. “The dark stretch is a death trap for pedestrians and two-wheeler riders who stand the risk of being knocked down by lorries and other vehicles. The plan has also envisaged a green fence, for which bamboo trees will be planted. The aim is to reduce sound and smoke from vehicles passing by,” he said.
The Vyttila Thykoodam-Aroor stretch in the Edapally-Aroor NH 47 Bypass where heavy toll is collected by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) too has become accident prone, because of the absence of street lights.
The NHAI’s Kochi Project Director C T Abraham said the agency had no plans to install street lights. “Kochi Corporation and Maradu Municipality must install them,” he said.