PWD may take over toll collection and use amount for road maintenance

Fed up with the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) apathy towards the upkeep of Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass, the Public Works Department (PWD) may collect toll directly and use the amount for maintaining the 16-km stretch.

“The NHAI is focused on toll collection alone, leaving motorists at the mercy of a horribly-maintained, slow and accident-prone stretch,” said PWD Secretary T.O. Sooraj. “We are seriously probing the possibility of entrusting toll collection to PWD (NH wing) since the NHAI is unable to maintain the highway in motorable condition. An ultimatum has been given to the NHAI’s Kochi project director,” he said.

A week ago, the PWD had handed over photographs of potholes and the poor condition of the stretch to Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes. The NHAI is learnt to have belatedly submitted a Rs.25-lakh project to its head office to repair potholes along the NH Bypass and bridges en route.

Mr. Sooraj expressed concern about the NHAI’s attitude to Kerala and the upkeep of national highways. “Most potholed portions can be temporarily restored during the rains using wet mix macadam (WMM). Sadly, the NHAI is not keen on this,” he said.

The NHAI’s delay in handing over funds to repair the pothole-ridden Mannuthy-Wadakkanchery stretch had resulted in the State government earmarking Rs. 5.19 crore for restoration works. The PWD (NH wing) has readied a Rs.10 lakh-project to restore approach roads to the Edappally overbridge which are now in pathetic condition.

Private bus stir

Meanwhile, private buses in the district have warned of an indefinite agitation within a week if the PWD and the NHAI do not repair potholed roads. “Passengers and bus crew are fed up of bad roads and we do not have any option but to keep away from the road,” said M.B. Satyan, general secretary of District Private Bus Operators’ Association.

Court moved for directive

A writ petition was filed on Monday in the Kerala High Court seeking a directive to the State government and the PWD to take steps to repair the damaged roads in the State. The petition was filed by Shine from North Paravur and another person. The petitioners said the condition of most of the roads was very bad. The potholed roads were causing many road accidents. The government had not taken any steps to repair the roads, they said in their petition.

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