The city’s newest walkway is getting ready along the Fort Vypeen coast.

The walkway that has been here since 2006 is being extended towards the northern beach front by Kerala Tourism and Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA) as part of a Rs. 2-crore project.

Civil works on the 350-metre-long walkway are almost over. The walkway was developed alongside a project to conserve and beautify the historic Our Lady of Hope Church located nearby.

Work on beautifying the church compound, laying cobbled pathways and widening the existing walkway has been completed. “Next in line is installing solar-powered street lights along the walkway,” tourism sources said.

Kerala Tourism chipped in with Rs 1.52 crore for the project. Seven balcony-like structures that extend into the beach from the walkway and hand rails were among the civil works done using the funds. GIDA contributed Rs. 50 lakh for extending the walkway and installing solar lights.

The old walkway was built at a cost of Rs. 45 lakh in 2006. “The idea of a walkway here was mooted a decade ago since the one along Fort Kochi beach is congested. Though Goshree bridges provided easy access to Vypeen, Fort Vypeen walkway did not attract many visitors. We hope the extension and lighting work will bring in visitors,” a tourism official said.

Poor maintenance

Shabby upkeep of the walkway has been a perennial problem. Lack of garbage bins has resulted in people littering the premises. Often, plastic and other waste materials are burnt on the side. Stray dogs in the area also pose problems to visitors.

“We plan to post four workers to ensure that the amenities are frequently tidied. The development of the beach front has resulted in the opening of a couple of home stays in the vicinity,” sources said.

The nine Chinese nets on the beach front overlook their counterparts in Fort Kochi, clearly visible at a distance of about a kilometre. But the temporary shacks set up by net owners are an eyesore. “We hope to better our business once the walkway is tidied and lit up,” said Yahya, a worker manning a net.

Kerala Tourism’s plan to have a children’s park, tourist information centre, police aid post and public toilets has been dropped due to paucity of funds. “But a proposal to develop the boat jetty nearby is being finalised,” tourism sources said.

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