PWD postpones toll collection for Edappally overbridge

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to hike the toll rates for the Edappally-Aroor stretch of NH 47 bypass from Sunday, defying protests. Vehicles would have to pay Rs 5 more for a return journey through the stretch. There would be a hike in the rate for the monthly pass too.

The NH Samara Samithi, a collective of organisations protesting against the ‘exorbitant' toll rates being levied on the bypass and Edappally-Mannuthy NH, said this amounts to further burdening commuters since the State and Central governments collect numerous taxes and fees from vehicle owners for the upkeep of roads, bridges and allied infrastructure. Thousands of rupees are collected as tax on each vehicle prior to registration and after registration, under heads like excise duty, road tax and registration fee. This is apart from the road cess collected from the fuel fare.

Cost escalation

Moreover, 52 per cent of the price of each litre of fuel goes as taxes to the State and Central governments. Under these circumstances, the collection of huge toll amounts from motorists for using public ways is not justified, said Hashim Chendampilly of the samithi.

Different organisations alleged that the toll rates could have been brought down if the NHAI had four-laned the Vyttila-Aroor stretch using the initial estimate of Rs 80 crore. The total project cost escalated to Rs 194 crore after the first contractor abandoned the works midway and the pending work was retendered.

Still, a few of the works are pending. They include the replacement of the broken expansion joints over the Vyttila overbridge and the bridge's resurfacing. Street lights are absent in most areas, especially in the Vytilla-Aroor stretch. Meanwhile, the collection of toll on the Edappally overbridge has been postponed. “This is because the work on constructing the bridge's hand rails will be over only by May,” said an engineer in the PWD (NH wing).

More In: Kochi | Kerala | National