KOCHI: Once a shopper’s paradise with an array of shops and restaurants, MG Road was a primary artery of Kochi’s commercial fare, along with Broadway. In the recent past, the famed shopping hubs have been synonymous with congestion, lack of parking space and business slowdown.
While traders at MG Road claim the arrival of the Metro ironically dampened their chances, the latter had prepared a report to beautify the stretch and convert it into a pedestrian plaza post metro construction in 2017. However, the project fell apart after conception leaving MG Road is almost a shadow of its former self with clogged drains and broken pavements. While Broadway finally got its revival plan, with CSML submitting a DPR and tenders to be floated this month, MG Road stretch continues to be plagued with misery.
“Business was slowing down even before the advent of the metro came. After construction, it became almost nil. The situation remains the same now. Lack of parking facilities, increased rent and traffic bottleneck have all played their part,” said TGF Paul, general secretary, Ernakulam Merchants Association.
G Karthikeyan, president, Kerala Merchants Chamber of Commerce, feels enabling parking space will help businesses to a large extent. “The proposal mooted by KMRL comprised pedestrianisation, with no parking facilities; the very reason it was rejected. We had requested authorities to build a multi-level parking facility to benefit customers but the same fell through. Last week, the Assistant Commissioner of Traffic had called a meeting to resolve related issues. Traffic officials suggest measures to ban parking. But, this will do nothing to improve sales. Hopefully,Operation Anantha will bring a solution to clogged drains and the waterlogged road,” he said.
Pedestrian plaza,the solution
"Earlier, KMRL had suggested converting MG Road into a pedestrian plaza, like the one inaugurated in Chennai yesterday. Such a plaza comprises one-way vehicular traffic, pedestrian-friendly facilities, street performances and outdoor dining. It would also contain proper stormwater drainage systems. Most modern cities have adopted this form of development. The pedestrian plaza was supposed to extend from Maharaja’s to the Madhava Pharmacy Junction. However, a few business traders opposed the report which became politicised, eventually leading to the project being dropped," said D Dhanuraj, chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research. He added that notion that awareness about the project must be effectively spread among the stakeholders involved.
"Business traders had genuine concerns. As per the report, vehicles would be able to traverse one-way. This had them wondering about the state of shops on the other side. Another primary claim is that of parking space. If the feeder services employed at Metro functioned efficiently, parking space would not be a problem. The report also involved a hop-on service. Unfortunately, the larger public was unable to get the thrust of the project. Residents’ associations and the Corporation could have been more involved," he said.
Meanwhile, KMRL sources said they had held discussions with various stakeholders. “During the initial phase of the discussions, the outcome wasn’t fruitful. We are keen to beautify the stretch,” said the source.
As per the report submitted by the Kochi Metro, vehicles would be able to travel one-way. This had the merchants wondering about the state of shops on the other side. Another primary claim is that of
KMRL sources said they had held discussions with various stakeholders. “During the initial level of the
discussions, the outcome wasn’t fruitful. We are keen to beautify the stretch,” said the source.