The surface of the repeatedly re-tarred Chilavannur road near Vyttila looks just perfect. But instead of being a delight for motorists, it has become a nightmare for them.

The additional layers of tar have elevated the shoulder of the road so high above the ground level that manoeuvring vehicles on the road has become a balancing act. The narrowness of the road and the presence of open drains on either side make things worse. The road is too narrow for even two medium-sized vehicles coming in opposite directions to pass without the risk of brushing against each other.

“None of the drivers using the road want to risk their vehicles falling into the open drain by trying to give too much space for the vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The steepness of the road shoulder and its rough edges make it a real possibility. So no one wants to get too close to the edge of the road, in effect, reducing the width of the road even further,” says Ramdas, an autorickshaw driver, who uses the stretch often.

Joseph, a resident in the locality, warns that traffic on the road will become more chaotic with the onset of monsoon. “The water from the open drain can spill over to the road leaving the motorists clueless about where the road ends and the drain begins,” he says.

P.K. Bhaskaran, a 70-year-old retired telecom employee who during his youth worked to lay a two-km stretch of the road in 1950s, laments the absolute disregard authorities have shown towards pedestrians. “Surfacing the road repeatedly doesn’t qualify as scientific maintenance of the road. There used to be footpaths on either side of the road during our childhood. Now they have been replaced by drains which are uncovered leaving the pedestrians no space to move around,” he says. He also pointed to the unscientific manner in which drains were maintained. The drains should have been lifted to the height of the road. Now, the drains are much below the road level, making it almost invisible to unsuspecting motorists. This could also worsen water logging, Mr. Bhaskaran says.

Essy Joseph, division councillor, says people living on either side of the road should surrender land to widen it. “A metre each on either side will help us widen the road and cover the drains with slabs.

Karthikeyan, another resident, says authorities cannot expect landowners to surrender land at throwaway prices and should pay them the market value of land.

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