Maddening traffic snarls has not prodded the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) into repairing gaping potholes at the junction and other areas of the NH Bypass.
Roads are worse at Vyttila where two lanes are ridden with gaping potholes, forcing vehicles to negotiate them at dead-slow speed. This results in over 2-km-long traffic hold-ups from the junction up to Chakkaraparambu Junction during peak hours on Saturday and Monday. Vehicles trying to escape through service roads too were trapped.
The NHAI is now citing the rains as an excuse for not repairing the stretch, overlooking the fact that potholes were there at the junction, Kumbalam-Aroor bridge and many other places well before the rainy season. The allegation is rife that the patchwork at the bridge did not last for even a week because of the shoddy quality of work.
The traffic police shot off letters to NHAI way back in February, citing the need to resurface vulnerable stretches, paint zebra lines and barricade the median. “This was after a spree of accidents involving pedestrians, who constituted 60 per cent of the accident fatalities, along the bypass in January,” said P.P. Shams, the Assistant Commissioner of Traffic Police-East.
The police also gave the NHAI a list of places where there is water logging on the bypass and service roads because of clogged drains. Still, little was done. Potholes have begun to develop all over vulnerable stretches of the bypass, despite NHAI claiming that resurfacing work was carried out on the bypass with a five-year guarantee.
“The NHAI is duty bound to resurface potholed portions of Kumbalam-Aroor bridge and the NH Bypass. Vehicles applying brake or veering to the side to avoid potholes are causing accidents,” said George T.A., a taxi owner.
General secretary of Ernakulam District Private Bus Operators’ Association M.B. Satyan said: “Buses plying to Alappuzha through the bypass pay Rs 80 as daily toll. Still, they are caught in traffic snarls at each junction for around 10 minutes, wasting over a litre of diesel per trip. The NHAI must widen junctions since flyovers will take time.”
Further, most parts of the 10-km-long Aroor-Vyttila stretch do not have street lights, increasing the number of accidents and pedestrian fatalities during the rains. The shabby upkeep of road medians and the overgrowth of shrubs obstructing view at U-turns are yet another .
“The ill-lit bypass is a death trap for pedestrians who cross the road at night. High-mast lights near toll plaza often do not work. The approache road to many bridges are sinking, catching motorists unawares,” said Sulaiman C.M., a shop owner.