With the Ponnurunni overbridge expected to be commissioned in another two months, there is increasing demand to remove vendors and others who encroach on pavements and service roads at Vyttila.
Traffic out of gear
Vendors jostle for space at the junction and at the mouth of service roads, throwing traffic and pedestrian movement out of gear.
“All pending works, including the bridge’s approaches and the construction of the portion over the railway line will be over by June end,” said MD of Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish.
Apart from widening the Ponnurunni-Vyttila stretch on the bridge’s southern side, civic agencies and the traffic police will have to curb parking to ensure smooth flow of vehicles.
Vyttila – the biggest and busiest junction in the State — has so far not been swept clean despite the Kochi Corporation’s drive to remove vendors, flex boards from public places entering its second week.
The High Court of Kerala had recently directed government agencies and the police to remove obstacles for pedestrians.
The councillor, representing Vyttila Division in Kochi Corporation, Sunitha Dixon said an illegal mini-market had cropped up along the service road at Vyttila. An individual owns most of the carts and street shops.
“Similarly, a host of unauthorised vendors have encroached into the road, obstructing pedestrians, vehicles and access to a urinal proposed adjacent to the Vyttila-Ponnurunni Road,” Ms Dixon said.
While promising that vendors and encroachers will be removed from Vyttila, the corporation has sought more cooperation from the police and the district administration.
“Kudumbasree outlets and other shops who pay rent, tax and license fee are affected because of the proliferation of illegal vendors. By obstructing free movement of people, the street vendors have become a challenge to the rule of law.
“We have begun using excavators to clear encroachments and flex boards since there are too many of them,” said K.J. Sohan, the Chairman of Corporation’s Town Planning standing committee.
He expressed concern over many food kiosks co-sponsored by the civic agency operating illegally, away from the places allotted to them.
“Vendors do not deserve sympathy and do not deserve rehabilitation. Our past experience shows that they will continue to obstruct road users even if we rehabilitate them,” said Mr Sohan.
“On its part, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) must give us the sanction to clear weeds and to clean clogged drains alongside the service roads at Vyttila, since roads get inundated in the rains.”
Ms Dixon called upon the National Highways Authority of India to widen the narrow underpass of the Vyttila bridge since motorists will throng it once the Ponnurunni bridge is ready.