The Thiruvananthapuram Road Development Company Limited (TRDCL) has raised the issue of road safety at Kuravankonam Junction after Mayor K.Chandrika on Saturday ordered that the handrails being erected on the footpath be dismantled.
The Mayor said she had issued the order because the handrails were blocking the entrance to a hotel. She claimed that owners of several shops at the junction had complained to her about the inconvenience caused by the rails. TRDCL, the concessionaire for the City Roads Improvement Project, said they had taken up the work under the contract with the government.
A project official said the handrails were being erected to channelise pedestrians towards the zebra crossing and prevent them from straying onto the road and causing accidents. “Ever since the junction improvement project was completed, we have been receiving complaints from the local people about unauthorised parking of vehicles and assembly of people on the road. Under the guidelines of the Indian Roads Congress, handrails are to be provided on all the roads leading away from a junction for a safe distance.”
‘Onus on Mayor'
Company officials said they stood to save a tidy amount if the erection of handrails was dropped. “It is purely from the view of traffic safety that we have taken up this component. If the Mayor wants it to be dropped, she will have to assume responsibility for accidents that happen at the location,” said an official. “With six roads linking up, the junction requires a complex traffic management system. Preventing pedestrians from straying into the path of vehicles is a basic safety requirement.”
Ms. Chandrika said TRDCL had never come forward to discuss the proposal to erect handrails in the area that fell within her constituency. She explained that many of the establishments located at the junction would lose their shop front advantage if handrails were erected.
“It is strange that TRDCL is adamant on blocking the entry to shops by erecting a continuous handrail at Kuravankonam, whereas it has provided openings at LMS junction for the entry to LMS compound and for the St. Joseph's Cathedral at Palayam. My warning to the company against going ahead with the work went unheeded. I had no other option but to order removal of the rails.”
The company, however, said the technical committee of the Kerala Road Fund Board had cleared the proposal to put up handrails at the junction after a section of shopkeepers had raised objections. Officials feared that dropping the proposal at Kuravankonam would spur similar demands from shopkeepers at other junctions. TRDCL has already installed handrails at the Kowdiar, Sasthamangalam, Vellayambalam, LMS, Museum, VJT Hall, Palayam and Pallimukku junctions.