Steps yet to be taken to rectify ‘black spots’ in Ernakulam

District has 703 of the total 4,598 accident-prone spots in Kerala

September 12, 2022 09:07 pm | Updated September 13, 2022 08:12 am IST - KOCHI

Steps are yet to be taken to rectify ‘black spots’ in Ernakulam. File

Steps are yet to be taken to rectify ‘black spots’ in Ernakulam. File | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Even as Ernakulam has 703 of the total 4,598 accident-prone ‘black spots’ in Kerala, there is an inordinate delay in taking steps to mitigate accidents. The district also recorded the highest number of road accidents and fatalities in Kerala during the 2017–2021 period, with 2,100 people getting killed and 28,500 sustaining injuries.

A ‘black spot’ is identified based on the number of accidents that occurred there during a particular time period, following which agencies such as the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) suggest measures to prevent accidents. The Kerala Road Safety Authority (KRSA) releases funds to roll out preventive measures, if needed by land acquisition.

Commuters and road-safety experts have for long been complaining about a host of factors causing accidents, especially bottlenecked and encroached-upon junctions that hamper visibility. This is accentuated by obstructive parking and autorickshaw stands at junctions and U-turns.

Official sources said undue delay by agencies that owned and maintained roads and allied infrastructure in taking remedial measures often led to more number of accidents occurring at black spots. “Road safety funds are generally granted to most accident-prone spots or cluster of spots to rectify blind spots, redesign junctions and the like. They generally comprise just 13% of the total number of black spots. This often results in little being done in areas which record less number of accidents, even though minor corrections in road or junction design would ensure safety of road users,” they said.

There are also issues like identifying the “real owner” of some roads, since the Public Works Department would have taken them over from local bodies. Funds would often have been allotted under a different scheme to upgrade such corridors and to step up safety measures by the time road-safety funds get sanctioned, they said.

A key official, who provided advice to improve safety measures at black spots in the district, said agencies such as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) took time to undertake remedial measures even when accidents took place at black spots on highway corridors. Unscientifically located bus stops on the 16-km Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass and other highway stretches were an example, said the official. Buses parked there created blind spots, posing danger to motorists and pedestrians.

As per statistics, 18% of accidents in Ernakulam district occurred near bus stops. “In such a situation, the KRSA and the police ought to ideally initiate suo motu punitive action against agencies which defaulted in their responsibility of ensuring safe commuting. Then there are issues like the Chief Secretary having to sanction funds above a particular limit, to take remedial measures. This in turn causes further delay,” said the official.

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