KMTA badly in need of funds, personnel

A view of the Vyttila Junction in Kochi. The Kerala Metropolitan Transport Authority Transport Authority (KMTA) was constituted in November 2020 to usher in improvement in commuting in the Greater-Kochi area.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The Kerala Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA), the first agency of its kind in India to have full-fledged legislative backing and was constituted in November 2020 to usher in qualitative and quantitative improvement in commuting in the Greater-Kochi area, has been hamstrung due to non-allocation of adequate personnel and funds by the Finance Department.

The KMTA could not take up any activity, as it has not been provided manpower. It does not even have a full-fledged Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with the result that Jafar Malik, the CEO of Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML), is holding additional charge of the agency. Even the meagre funds that were allotted by the State government could not be utilised due to treasury issues.

The situation is such that personnel from the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) and Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) have to spare their time to ensure that the KMTA stays afloat. Supporting staff have not been provided, although demands were raised at multiple fora. The focus on Assembly elections too hit its operations, sources said.

“Procedural delays in availing funds further affected its functioning. Officials of the Finance Department are mostly non-responsive to demand for personnel and funds. They raise query after query for our demands, even though we go the extra mile in clearing their doubts. Subsequently, the KMTA remains just an announcement, a body vested with wide-ranging powers that remain on paper,” they added.

At its maiden meeting in February, chaired by Minister for Transport A.K. Saseendran, the KMTA had decided to opt for a fresh Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) for the Greater Kochi area, rationalise bus routes, hasten work on the walkway-cum-non-motorised road corridor linking Ernakulam North and South railway stations, and develop a common app to integrate different modes of public transport.

It was also decided to extend the KMTA’s jurisdiction to areas which fall under the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and the Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA), to form committees for public transport operators, to integrate traffic for integrated land use and town planning, urban freight movement, and also a city transport advisory committee.

The KMTA was also expected to lay the groundwork to permit the entry of private buses from Vypeen into the city, to have tie-ups with all bodies that have been active in the field of traffic reforms, to finalise a parking policy, regulate parking and to install direction boards wherever required.

Official sources said the KMTA was empowered to take decisions on operating mini buses as stage carriers from the metro corridor to the suburbs. This can be included in the route-rationalisation plan, the sources said.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 4:19:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kmta-badly-in-need-of-funds-personnel/article34353450.ece

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