The miserable condition of the city roads can be solved to an extent with improved construction methods and better coordination between the agencies concerned. But roads are not just for vehicles to travel. They should also cater to the needs of other stakeholders, such as pedestrians and service providers.  Frequent digging up of roads by agencies like KWA, KSEBand telecom firms for laying of pipelines plays a significant role in the deterioration of the roads. However, they cannot always be blamed.

The pipeline or cables laid beneath the roads earlier are now covered under a bitumen layer as a result of road widening. The charges the agencies pay to restore the roads comes as additional costs to them. This points towards a need for proper road design and a robust system in carrying out the task of laying and maintenance of utility lines. 

What we require is not just a road inventory system but a street design management system. And utility ducts should be considered as a significant element of street design.It is necessary to create a mapping system based on GIS (Geographic Information System) for all city roads and adding to it different layers of information about their characteristics and underground pipelines. The departments concerned should be able to access this information for better inter-agency coordination, hence creating an efficient system.

It is also essential to have street design guidelines for city roads based on their width that provides equitable access to all road users. Increased pedestrian design consideration in roads would provide improved comfort to pedestrians, better last-mile connectivity, lead to prioritisation of public transport, thereby reducing pollution and traffic congestion. For a city like Kochi that lacks public space, our roads can be developed into streets which will not just facilitate movement of traffic but also support social and leisure activities.

This news article was published in The New Indian Express on December 13, 2019 Click here read

Praseeda Mukundan
Praseeda Mukundan
Praseeda Mukundan is a Senior Research Associate at CPPR. She is an Architect, and Urban and Regional Planner from the School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. She can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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