Kochi

Vendors return to footpaths in Kochi, put pedestrians at risk

Vendors have encroached on much of the recently developed footpath of Abraham Madamakkal Road, a smart road in Kochi.

Vendors have encroached on much of the recently developed footpath of Abraham Madamakkal Road, a smart road in Kochi.

A fortnight since the renovated 2.20-km Marine Drive walkway was formally opened, visitors to the prime location are finding it difficult to safely walk up to the half-a-dozen entry points to the walkway, as vendors have wantonly encroached upon footpaths of Abraham Madamakkal Road, which extends from High Court Junction to the first Goshree Bridge.

The situation is much the same at the northern end of Shanmugham Road, where vendors have blocked entry to the walkway. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that pedestrians have to skip the neatly paved footpaths and walk though the road, risking their life, since most vendors have occupied the entire width of the footpath located a stone’s throw away from the High Court and the Police Club. The footpaths on the eastern side were renovated by Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML) as part of its smart road project.

CSML Chief Executive Officer Shanavas S. said efforts were on to clear the footpaths, which also have tactile tiles to guide visually challenged people, of encroachments. “A letter in this regard was recently given to the police. The Kochi Corporation too will have to step in, as directed by the High Court, to ensure that footpaths and roads are cleared of vendors and other encroachers.”

According to street vending rules, only licensed vendors can do business in public spaces. They also ought to vacate the space every evening. In this case, they are blatantly flouting rules while at the same time occupying substantial space on the renovated footpath, Mr. Shanavas said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order, Traffic) Kuriakose V.U. said the police had been assisting the Kochi Corporation in clearing public spaces of encroachments. The civic agency must identify such instances, while members of the public must pass on information if evicted vendors return to do business, he added. On the need for wide, well-maintained footpaths and open spaces to ensure physical and mental health, senior lawyer M.R. Rajendran Nair said the corporation and the police must help pedestrians reclaim their rightful space. “In addition, the civic agency must help ready adequate pay-and-park spaces, including multi-tier ones, to prevent haphazard parking on footpaths and road shoulders. Else, pedestrians stand the risk of being knocked down by vehicles. CSML and civic agencies must also ready dedicated cycle tracks,” he said.

Organisations like Ernakulam Vikasana Samiti have been critical of the alleged failure of the authorities to remove iron posts installed by telecom firms from footpaths renovated by CSML. “They [iron posts] block narrow footpaths, defeating the very purpose of the costly renovation,” said K.S. Dileep Kumar, Samiti president. Terming the recent eviction drive by the corporation at Menaka an eyewash, he said most vendors had returned to the footpath. “There is a gang which collects up to ₹2,000 as rent a day from such vendors,” he added.


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Printable version | May 17, 2022 11:35:53 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/vendors-return-to-footpaths-in-kochi-put-pedestrians-at-risk/article38315600.ece