For the 14 employees of the zonal rationing office, located on a near-dilapidated building on the road to the Ernakulam North Railway Station, working during monsoon can be a hellish experience.
Apart from the staff, around 200 people frequent the office every day. The situation turned worse when the Kochi Metro rail work started. “We could feel the impact of the drill, when the Kochi Metro started the piling work,” they said.
The waterlogged floor is slippery and the roof is leaking all over. The computer systems in the office are covered with umbrellas to prevent it from getting soaked in the water.
Cracks are visible all over the building. The files are covered with plastic sheets. The roots of a nearby tree have broken in through the walls of the toilet and rendered it unusable.
The office lacks proper sanitation facilities. “We have about six female staff. Since the office does not have usable toilet facilities, they have to go depend on the toilets of nearby railway station. Besides, we also don’t have access to drinking water. We pool money and buy water from the nearby hotel,” they said.
The employees blamed the Kochi Corporation for not taking steps to renovate the building.
Though the Mayor has visited the office, he has not done anything so far. “We occupied the office in 1991. No maintenance work has been carried out since then. The Mayor had promised help, but we are yet to get it,” an official said.
Kochi Mayor Tony Chammani said that the tender proceedings for the renovation of the building has been completed.
“We can soon start the work,” he said.