Pothole-ridden NH stretch between Edappally to Kottappuram bridge, which carries around 25,000 vehicles a day, breaks the back of motorists

As the cloud of dust wafts up, motorists on the approach road to the Edappally railway overbridge on its north end squint their eyes and buckle up for a rollercoaster ride that seems to last for ever.

If the rains had turned the rail overbridge into a nightmare for travellers, the sun that shone on Sunday made things worse. The mud that washed up on the bridge in the rains has dried up and turned into a clouds of dust in the face of heavy vehicular traffic.

“We take about 10 minutes to pass a 500-metre stretch,” says driver Sulfiqar, who works with a private bus service between Ernakulam and Guruvayoor, about the stretch of the National Highway 17 between Edappally Bypass Junction and Kunnumpuram.

Some other stretches on the National Highway were even worse, he said, picking out the ones between Paravoor and Moothakunnam and between Kodungaloor and Chavakkad. He said the Kodungalloor bypass road was black-topped about two months ago but now appeared damaged.

The KMK Junction in Paravoor town and Pattanam Junction are just two examples of the worst instances of neglect as both the spots are marked by heavy waterlogging during the rains. The motorists run into craters on the road at these spots and also manoeuvre around water logging because there are no drains on the sides of the road to carry off rainwater.

Ramachandran, a resident of Cheriappilly, said the spot where the National Highway takes a sharp turn north towards Paravoor is perennially in a bad condition. The portion of the road was re-surfaced about six months ago but appeared as if a war had taken place around the place.

A two-wheeler ride of about 30 km between Edappally Toll Junction and Kottappuram bridge on Sunday revealed the extent of the damage on one of the busiest stretches in Kerala, which is estimated to carry between 20,000 and 25,000 vehicles a day.

The approach roads to the Edappally railway overbridge on both ends are in utter disrepair and convenor of the NH 17 Samyukta Samara Samiti, Hashim Chennampilly, accused the national highways authority of being callous in not taking a pro-active approach to better the road. He said most parts of National Highway 17 between Ernakulam and Guruvayoor fell apart hardly six months after being redone.

A senior official of the Public Works Department (National Highways) said they were aware of the state of road. The local MLA V.D. Satheesan had brought up the issue before the PWD, said the official.

He said orders had been issued to carry out patchworks on various reaches of the road but heavy rain prevented works. “But now that the rains have relented repair works will be carried out immediately,” he said.

Mr. Chennampilly claimed NH 17 was a milch cow for the contractors and repair works were carried out almost every two months but without yielding the desired results.

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