KOCHI: Just a few weeks remain for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the biggest sporting event the city has ever played host to. Kochi, however, is all set to welcome the guests with pothole-filled roads.
Vast stretches of shattered roads will be a 'shame' to the civic administrators in the city, one of six venues to host matches in FIFA's flagship junior tournament allotted to the country.
Though the various stakeholders are blaming each other for the pathetic condition of the roads, the state government is yet to chalk out a proper plan for carrying out the repair work.The preparatory work for the U-17 World Cup, including the upgradation of grounds and premises, are into the final stages. But the roads leading to the city centre and in the suburbs present a sorry picture.The local organising committee, led by nodal officer A P M Mohammed Haneesh, has taken steps to carry out maximum infrastructure work by utilising the `17.5 crore allotted for preparatory work.
"For instance, we have carried out the remodelling of the Ring Road near Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, the main venue," said Haneesh."The roads around the practice venues like Fort Kochi Veli Ground, including K J Harshal Road, were also carried out. Considering the importance of the Thammanam-Pulleppady Road for diverting traffic during the event, we have also included the repair of the same in our itinerary.
We hope the various stakeholders will chalk out a proper plan for other roads.” He said the District Collector has convened review meetings and discussed the issue of roads in and around the city with various stakeholders, including PWD, Kochi Corporation, GCDA and KMRL.
“The rains are continuing even after Onam and that is the major reason, according to various stakeholders, which is preventing them from carrying out the repair work,” said Haneesh.
He is optimistic of the situation changing by the time the tournament draws closer.
Meanwhile, Hibi Eden MLA alleged the policy decisions of the LDF Government have resulted in the present situation.
“The difference of opinion between the Finance Minister and the PWD Minister is one of the key reasons for road work getting delayed. The Finance Minister always advocates carrying out work under the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). This has resulted in PWD not getting its annual allocation. Moreover, KIIFB funds are meant for works with an outlay of Rs 10 crore or more,” said Hibi.The stretch between High Court Road and Goshree Bridge, some areas on MG Road, Shanmugham Road and Park Avenue, the Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road owned by GCDA and the stretch from Palarivattom to Kakkanad are some of the roads in a dilapidated state. The areas at Padivattom, Chembumukku, Vazhakkala and Padamugal too are filled with huge potholes.
Similarly, there are large potholes near the petrol pump in Padamugal. Due to vehicles taking a sudden deviation to evade these gutters, accidents are frequent here.Hibi said: “The lack of pre-monsoon repair work is the major reason for roads getting damaged. I still don't understand why the government is not taking measures to complete pothole-filling and repairs before the monsoon showers. Contractors are also hesitant to undertake work because of the GST-related issues. Hence, an intervention from the government is essential to solve the present road crisis.”
Preparations move into finals, work on roads yet to begin
The preparatory work for the U-17 World Cup, including the upgradation of grounds and premises, are into the final stages. But the roads leading to the city centre and in the suburbs present a sorry picture.
Blame game on
Various stakeholders are blaming each other for the pathetic condition of the roads. Amid all this, the state government is yet to chalk out a proper plan for carrying out the repair work. Hibi Eden MLA says LDF Government's policy decisions have led to the present situation.
The stretch between High Court Road and Goshree Bridge, some areas on MG Road, Shanmugham Road and Park Avenue, the Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road, the stretch from Palarivattom to Kakkanad, besides roads at Padivattom, Chembumukku, Vazhakkala and Padamugal are in a dilapidated state, filled with huge potholes.
Since vehicles take sudden deviations to evade the potholes, accidents are frequent. Damage to vehicles and irregular traffic movement are also some of the side-effects of the pathetic condition of the roads.