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Demand for better roads, transportation amenities

CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a news article published in The Hindu. He comments “Kochi also needs dedicated corridors for Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) and tramways, which are getting popular worldwide since they considerably lessen the number of private vehicles and autorickshaws. They can be readied at a fraction of the cost of building a metro rail corridor. It is sad that the State government is subsidising the Kochi metro to the tune of around ₹1 crore per day, while not incentivising bus operators.”

Much can be done if agencies work in tandem, say Kochiites

With Assembly polls round the corner, Kochiites across age groups demanded plugging of gaps in road and allied infrastructure and also expressed concern at lacunae on the commuting front, giving credence to the perception that much can be done if civic and other agencies worked in tandem.

The condition of most arterial roads has improved over time, but for KWA and other players playing spoilsport by frequently trenching them, inordinate delay in completing their works and improper restoration, said 26-year-old Nevil Jacob Paul, a mechanical engineer who is employed in L&T.

“Civic agencies like the Kochi Corporation and the GCDA, and those like the PWD and the NHAI which own roads are duty-bound to ensure that trenching is not at the cost of commuters and road safety. Important roads must have utility ducts, alleviating the need to dig roads. Mobile pothole filling units must be introduced so that potholes are repaired as soon as they develop. Above all, these agencies must take a cue from DMRC/KMRL on how roads along the metro corridor were widened and resurfaced with tarmac-like finish,” he said.

In addition, care must be taken to widen junctions so that vehicles can take free-left turns without being caught in traffic snarls. On their part, enforcement agencies must clamp down on permanent and semi-permanent encroachments and obstructive parking by cars and other vehicles, especially on footpaths and narrow roads, Mr. Paul added.

Milling of roads

District committee member of Ernakulam District Residents Associations’ Apex Council (EDRAAC) D.G. Suresh called for modern road-resurfacing methods like ‘milling’ (in which the tarred layer is scooped out, treated and reused) — a technology that CSML has deployed while developing Park Avenue Road and Shanmugham Road as ‘smart roads’.

“This ensures that the road level is constant, while at the same time lessening quarrying to source aggregate. “Similarly, pay-and-park lots must be developed at frequent intervals, to prevent parking on public roads. This can be realised if owners of vacant plots are incentivised and provided technical support.”

Mr. Suresh also sought introduction of mini buses along side roads that link residential and commercial areas, which will be able to operate feeder services to the nearest metro station. Adequate number of low floor and ordinary buses must be rolled out in suburban locales not linked by the metro, he said.

BRT corridors

The founder-chairman of city-based think tank Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), D. Dhanuraj too sought qualitative and quantitative upgradation of modes of public transport, especially buses. Constructing more flyovers will only result in influx of private vehicles into the city, as is being seen on the Edappally-Aroor NH bypass where three flyovers were commissioned this year.

“Kochi also needs dedicated corridors for Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) and tramways, which are getting popular worldwide since they considerably lessen the number of private vehicles and autorickshaws. They can be readied at a fraction of the cost of building a metro rail corridor. It is sad that the State government is subsidising the Kochi metro to the tune of around ₹1 crore per day, while not incentivising bus operators.”

It is heartening that the Kochi Corporation is now working in tandem with KMTA and CSML to provide the rightful place to pedestrians and bicyclists, he added.

This news article was published in The Hindu on 23 March 2021. Click here to read

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