Tourist guides describe Thoppumpady as the gateway to Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, some of the most popular travel destinations in the State. But a walk on footpaths in the area and brief conversations with people thronging its streets reveal the huge chasm between the Thoppumpady on postcards and the reality.
Starting from the old Mattancherry bridge, if one tries to walk to the south or to the west, there is no guessing what might hit the walker. With heavy parking of two-wheelers on its sides, it is difficult to access the footpath on the southern side of the road, leading to Fort Kochi.
There was no way a person could walk safely, especially with children, on Thoppumpady roads, said K.J. Xavier, who was shopping in the area. The narrow nature of the footpaths only adds to pedestrians’ woes.
The footpaths are also partially occupied by vendors, selling wares ranging from flowers to apparels.
The footpath on the northern side of the junction is partially taken up by a shop on cart wheels, which appears to have been parked there for a long time.
The northern end of the footpath is occupied by a heap of construction materials, unloaded there for a building under construction. Advertisement hoardings that are placed at about six feet from the ground also obstruct walkers at several places on the footpath.
Thoppumpady is still driven by the economy centred on its old fishing harbour. However, pressure from rising number of vehicles and increasing population are showing on its streets. Besides, the commercial importance of the place has decreased after a new bridge came up in place of the old Mattancherry bridge, which is now open only to two-wheelers.
However, the bridge, once iconic of Kochi, is in disrepair and its west end has turned an eyesore. Heaps of rubbish from nearby hotels and shops are enough to drive away any tourist.
Member of the Kochi Corporation Council Celine Peter said she had been campaigning in the area to make people more responsible. The heaps of waste came up regularly despite workers from the Corporation cleaning up the place. She said the old bridge would soon be repaired with money from the MP fund. The work is estimated to cost around Rs. 75 lakh, she said.
Though the roads are in good condition in and around Thoppumpady, their width has not increased and traffic congestion is frequent, bringing more trouble to pedestrians.