Frequent cuttings on the median to permit u-turns make matters worse
Medians on roads the world over are built to prevent head-on collisions. Not so in Kochi, where most of them cause accidents on a regular basis.
The District Road Safety Council and the agencies that own roads have not installed reflectors on unlit medians, even months after a high-profile accident in which actor Jagathy Sreekumar suffered grievous injuries following his car ramming an unscientifically-constructed and ill-lit median in Kozhikode.
Neither have the stakeholders taken action five days after the accident in Kannur involving an LPG tanker in which 11 people were killed. The accident may have been avoided if the accident-causing median had been well lit.
District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed, who chairs the district-level safety council said that the council meets once a month. “A proposal on installing reflectors on medians, and other crucial road infrastructure in the district was sent many months ago to the government. The project cost was Rs.3.30 crore, but all that the council received was Rs.15 lakh,” he said. The project is likely to be approved in a month, he said.
Many of the reflectors installed by sponsors on medians along a few roads at the behest of the Traffic Police were removed by civic agencies a few years ago. Instead, tiny reflectors that are hardly visible were installed on some medians on the Sahodaran Ayyappan Road. Medians on most other roads, including MG Road, Banerji Road, the Aluva-Kaloor Road and nearby Tripunithura and West Kochi do not have reflectors and ‘cats eyes’, neither are they painted properly.
Ernakulam RTO T.J. Thomas said that many unlit medians are less than a feet high, making them invisible to speeding motorists. “There are instances of reflectors on medians not being replaced after being damaged by vehicles passing by,” he said.
Frequent cuttings on the median to permit u-turns make matters worse.
Unmarked speed breakers are another problem. Instead of preventing accidents, they result in drivers losing control of their vehicles. They sometimes cause axles of vehicles to break too, he said.
The police say they have been complaining about unsafe medians in the city for years, but to no avail. “The threat posed by unscientific medians along the Banerji Road was raised with the corporation six months ago. We were told that the work to install reflectors was entrusted by with an agency. But nothing has happened till now,” said V.H. Mohammed Rafique, Assistant Commissioner of Police, City Traffic (West). The police also plan to take up a study to identify other such medians.