NHAI: A bridge leading to nowhere
Despite the presence of foot over bridges along NHAI NH 66, pedestrians still cross the high-traffic road.
KOCHI: Almost 18 months ago, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) spent crores to set up five-foot over bridges along the 16 km-long NH 66 stretch from Edappally to Aroor. The bridges were constructed to alleviate the woes of pedestrians.
But, it seems the resources spent for the same has gone down the drains. Despite the presence of the bridges, people still prefer to cross the roads. The five FOBs were constructed at Edappally, Palarivattom, Chalikkavattom, Kannadikkadu and Panangad. Many attribute the non-use of RoBs to unscientific construction.
“This points to the lack of planning on the part of NHAI officials. NHAI builds bridges all over the state but not many of them are user-friendly. No elderly or disabled people will use that,” said Greater Cochin Development Authority former chairman N Venugopal, who mooted foot overbridges with escalators during his tenure. According to many, the bridges are too tiring. “If I want to use the overbridge, I need to climb 50 steps as it is constructed 20 ft above the road. I’m 72 years old and can’t climb that high,” says Narayanan Nambiar, a resident of Edappally. He thinks that an escalator would easily solve the problem. For others, crossing the road is easier than using the bridge. “I work at a private hospital near Palarivattom and I have a busy schedule.
It takes time to climb up the foot overbridge here. It makes me tired too. So, I take the risk of crossing the busy road,” says Nivin, a resident of Vaduthala. Meanwhile, NHAI authorities said people find silly reasons to not use the facility. “People are used to walk on the road and crossing it. Using foot overbridges is yet to become a part of pedestrians culture. Media and the local bodies should take initiatives to create awareness about traffic rules.
They should be encouraged to use foot overbridges,” said Sahadevan Nambiar, CEO, OMT Concessionaire, which has been entrusted by the National Highways Authority of India for the operation and maintenance of the Edappally-Aroor stretch of NH 66. Dinesh K, a site engineer with NHAI, Kochi, said they are planning to introduce a new project to make people use the foot overbridges. “We will put a barrier in the highway median to prevent pedestrians from crossing the road. But we need to get permission from higher authorities,” he said.