NHAI draws flak for delay in FOB commissioning

It is going to be a long wait for pedestrians wanting to safely cross the 16-km Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass corridor, as five foot overbridges (FOBs), built by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), are not anywhere near commissioning.

While the inordinate delay in readying these structures is attracting much criticism, demand is rife to install a pair of lifts, escalators, or ramps. There is also a complaint that the steps are steep, which will make the facilities inaccessible to handicapped and elderly people.

Now, pedestrians have a harrowing time on the ever-busy NH corridor, sometimes waiting for up to 10 minutes during peak hours, to cross the stretch, which has width varying between four and six lanes. The FOBs are coming up at Edappally, EMC Hospital, Chalikkavattom, Kannadikkad, and Madavana.

Sources in the NHAI said that the pedestrian bridges could be commissioned only in August, since some more work remains to be completed, and the structures have to be given a paint coating. They also cited workers going on mass leave and rain as reasons for the delay in completing the work.

Meanwhile, N.A. Shafeeq, a former councillor who represented the Chakkaraparambu Division in the Kochi Corporation, expressed dismay at the NHAI not readying a foot overbridge at the pedestrian-dense Chakkaraparambu, where half a dozen people had lost their lives in accidents. “The NHAI did not budge, though we organised a protest a couple of months ago citing the anomaly. The State government must take up the matter with the NHAI. On our part, we plan to hold an all-party meeting on the issue,” he said.

Better Kochi Response Group (BKRG) president S. Gopakumar spoke of how the NGO had readied a project to install a foot overbridge at Menaka. “Our plan was to build a structure which can be dismantled, having both lifts and escalators at both ends, similar to those in most foreign countries. The project was estimated to cost Rs. 30 lakh. There are ramps having low gradient in countries like Argentina to enable both pedestrians and wheel-chair-bound people to access foot overbridges,” he said.

At several places on the national highway, pedestrians can be seen jaywalking since pedestrian lines are absent or have not been repainted by the NHAI.

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