The pathetic condition of most roads, footpaths, drains and medians in the city has become a major discussion topic in the local body poll, with the two apex councils of the residents' associations demanding a foolproof mechanism to ensure good roads.
Both the Ernakulam District Residents Associations' Apex Council (EDRAAC) and the Residents Apex Council Ernakulam (RACE) have demanded well-maintained roads in the City Corporation limits and also in the nearby municipalities.
EDRAAC president P. Rangadasa Prabhu attributed the bad condition of roads to the lack of pre-monsoon maintenance work by the civic bodies and the PWD. “People at the helm of the agencies concerned did not seem interested, despite we taking up the issue many times. Durable roads, footpaths and allied infrastructure can be built only if contractors are made to abide by a five-year warranty clause. This would also reduce corruption in the award of contracts and execution of work.”
He said that awareness campaigns by residents' associations has resulted in most candidates in the fray promising to build wider and better quality roads.
The president of RACE, S. Balakrishnan, attributed the plight of roads to an “unforgivable lapse” by councillors of civic agencies. Roads and footpaths have never been so bad. Mechanisation must be brought in to ensure the quality road surfacing. There are also plenty of machines to clean medians and also to keep the road kerb free of sand and dust. Kochi urgently needs a mobile patch-work-repair unit that can fill potholes as soon as they develop, he said.
“Two-wheeler riders and pedestrians are amongst the worst affected by the bad condition of roads since they cannot assess the depth of potholes filled with rain water,” said Sujith N.G., an executive. Prominent among the busy stretches riddled with potholes are the Panampilly Nagar road, the Thevara Junction-Kundanoor bridge road, the Kacheripady-Chittoor Road, Kaloor Junction, Kaniampuzha Road, the High Court-Goshree Road, the Karingachira-Hill Palace Road and Kunnumpuram on NH 17. Most of these roads are owned and maintained by the PWD (both the Roads and Bridges and the NH wing).