KOCHI: Bearing the brunt of a damaged road for 16 long years and still patiently holding on to the demand to have it repaired is no mean feat. Mulavukad residents’ demand to renovate the service road connecting the heart of the island with Kochi goes back to the early 2000s.
The poor condition of the stretch running parallel to the International Container Terminal Road creates trouble to commuters. Despite several rounds of protest, officials of Mulavukad panchayat and Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA) are yet to come up with a solution to the problem.
GIDA had promised to finish the project in two phases. Though the first phase of the work till Military Camp has been completed, the rest of the stretch till Bolgatty Junction is muddled with narrow lanes, potholes and water-logging.
“We have been forced to put up with this bad stretch since childhood. It’s a routine activity for officials to come up with temporary repairs on the stretch. As it deteriorates within months, many motorists have been injured after falling in the crater-like potholes,” said Rafeeq, a shop owner. Many residents point out that the lack of a proper drainage facility is destroying the road.
“The lack of a drainage canal connecting both ends is a major issue. Following the construction of Container Road, the drainage canal on that stretch, opening into the backwaters, has been blocked. Many of the houses in the area were inundated in the last two floods,” said Noushad, an auto driver.
The decisions of the review meeting in 2018 chaired by then-District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla is yet to be implemented by the authorities. And, without considering the difficulties of residents, officials are still coming up with petty excuses.
“We are awaiting the monsoon to get over to restart the work on the Military Camp-Thandassery stretch. We had done a temporary tarring along the section, but the stretch was later dug up for Kerala Water Authority (KWA) work. Land acquisition is also a major roadblock in the second phase,” said Viji Shajan, president, Mulavukad panchayat.
GIDA has entrusted Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation (KITCO) with the task of supervising the project and it has already transferred 50 per cent of funds to KITCO for executing the work. Now, GIDA blames the latter claiming that its negligent approach has slowed down land acquisition.
“In the beginning, GIDA directly helmed the distribution of compensation for land acquisition. To speed up the work, the project was given to KITCO in 2010. But they reduced the amount of compensation citing fund crunch. The inordinate delay from the contractor also has a role in the current condition of the road,” said a GIDA official.