‘Customers complain about dust blown up by the work,’ says Teresa, who works at a café.‘I am forced to shut down my studio due to poor business since the work began,’ says Venugopal.
The never-ending construction of an overbridge at Ponnurunni has cut off a vital road link for members of the local community.
The overbridge is being built at the railway level crossing at Ponnurunni to ease the increasing traffic along the National Highway Bypass and Palarivattom Junction.
But as the construction has overshot the 18-month period originally fixed for completion, new problems have risen in the area.
For one, the Vyttila-Thammanam Road has effectively been split into two — Thammanam-Ponnurunni and Vyttila- Ponnurunni — with the level crossing at Ponnurunni being shut down. The closed level crossing has dealt a severe blow to small traders on either side, while causing immense difficulties to students and others who used to cross through here.
Venugopal, who runs a digital studio in a rented building along the northern end of the overbridge, is set to close down his studio for want of business ever since the level crossing was closed.
He said that many others like him faced the grim situation.
“This bridge has divided Ponnurunni,” said Mr. Venugopal, as he wonders how much longer it will take before the work is completed.
The stretch of road alongside the bridge on either side has been reduced to a narrow rubble-ridden single track. The condition of the footpaths is worse. Students of the two schools nearby use the route daily to get to their school.
Small by-lanes and alternative roads are deteriorating quickly as all the traffic of the road is redirected along these routes.
The road has also been dug up in some areas for laying water pipelines.
The construction has turned the road into a dust bowl, or a muddy pool if it rains.
Mohammed, who runs a wayside shop, is concerned about the fate of his shop covered in dust. “The closure of the level crossing has stopped the movement of customers from the Vyttila side. That’s a big blow for traders on this side,” he said.
Antony P.D, a painting worker, said the levelling of drains for the construction leads to the road getting flooded in the rain. “The careless manner in which the workers at the overbridge site dump building materials from above the bridge also poses a threat to pedestrians and motorists on the southern end of the bridge. It’s a serious threat to students in the nearby school as well,” he said.
He also lambasted the authorities for not clearing the underground pipes that were removed and now lie on the roadside at the landing of the overbridge on the northern end.
Teresa George, a member of the Café Kudumbasree unit on the southern end of the bridge, said they had lost many regular customers from the other side of the level crossing. “Customers also complain about the dust and sound caused by the constant movement of the vehicles and construction works,” she said.
Soumya N.S, councillor for Ponnurunni, is flooded with complaints about the prolonged denial of access across the level crossing.
“The road and the drains along the stretch of the bridge are in bad shape, which can be repaired only on completion of the overbridge. Besides, the smaller roads like Varekkattu Road have also been affected due to the constant diversion of vehicles through them,” she said.