The long wait of the islanders of Mulavukad for a public transport system is coming to an end.
The authorities have issued permits for operating three mini-buses along the nearly six km-long Island.
Though Goshree Bridges were constructed five years ago providing road connectivity between the Island and the Kochi city, no public transport system could be introduced in the area. The islanders had to depend on the autorikshaws and private vehicles to reach their destinations.
With the completion of the bridges, majority of the boats that operated between Mulavakuad and Ernakulam had also stopped service worsening the traffic situation.
Presently, four boats including one of the State Water Transport Department are operating in the route in place of the 13 that ferried passengers.
The island lacks proper roads for vehicles to operate. With the authorities completing the formalities for acquiring around 50 per cent of the land required for the project, decks have been cleared for the introduction of the mini-bus service, said Majeed Hussain, chairman of the Development Standing Committee of the Panchayat.
The district administration has released Rs. 2 lakh for covering the open drains along the road and laying concrete pipes for carrying away storm water.
The Mulavakad panchayat will contribute Rs. 5 lakh for the scheme which will ensure sufficient road width. The panchayat authorities hope to complete the roadwork by mid-October, Mr. Hussain said.
According to the fare stage fixed, one has to pay Rs. 4.50 for travelling from Ernakulam to Mulavukad. The fare for travelling up to Ponnarimangalam will be Rs. 3.50. The 14-seater mini-buses will be starting the service from the High Court junction, Mr. Hussain said.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has expressed its willingness to operate mini-buses in the Mulavukad route.
Once the 7-meter-wide road is developed, the panchayat hopes to introduce regular buses in the island road.
At a later stage, provisions for creating bus bays also have to be created, he said.
KITCO, the consultant of the GIDA is understood to have started the process of identifying the land that needs to be acquired in the second stage of the road project.
The GIDA will purchase the land directly from the landowners for the project. Though it was suggested to prepare a masterplan for the Goshree islands, it yet to make a headway, Mr. Hussain said.