"Taxum Tollum koduthu mudinje
Kuzhiyil veenu naduvum odinje
PWD sir-ay, vannonnu kaanu, ee roadonnu nokku,
Tax koduthen kudumbam mudinje...."
(We've been doomed by paying tax and toll, broke our spine by falling into potholes, Oh PWD sir, please come and see, come and see this road, my family is broke paying taxes.)
As a youngster holding a guitar sings these lines, a crowd stands around him, holding placards saying 'Stop toll collection until we get smooth roads'. Tired of potholes and pathetic roads, residents of Kochi have now taken to the streets and demanded that toll collection at Kumbalam toll plaza should be stalled until the pothole ridden road is repaired.
Kochi residents takes out to street demanding to stop toll collection until pothole ridden roads in the city are repaired. pic.twitter.com/mYeMaLfOBsâ€” Neethu Joseph (@neethujoseph_15) September 10, 2019
Over the past few months, the state of roads in the city have turned from bad to worse. Motorists in Kochi had to endure massive traffic blocks last week on many stretches, sometimes the jam causing traffic to stall for hours. After the road blocks in Kochi grabbed headlines, the district administration identified about 45 roads in the city that require urgent maintenance works.
â€śHow can they continue to collect tolls if they cannot offer us quality roads to commute?â€ť asks Biju Mangalath, a resident of Kochi.
Kumbalam toll plaza is an important and easy gateway for those plying from Alappuzha district to Kochi city. The toll plaza located at the National Highway 66 leads to Edapally in Ernakulam, covering three bottle neck junctions of Kochi â€“ Kundanoor, Vytilla and Palarivattom.
About 50 people from in and around Kochi took part in the protest.
â€śWe pay road taxes every year, and toll for every trip between Aroor and Edapally. If they cannot maintain the roads in good shape, what is the point of collecting toll?â€ť asks Savio, a popular DJ in Kochi.
Last week, District Collector S Suhas has also given ultimatum to Public Works Department, Greater Cochin Development Corporation, National Highways division, Kochi Corporation, Kochi Metro Rail Limited, Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Ltd., Cochin Refineries Ltd and National Highways Authority of India, to complete maintenance works within two weeks.
Posted by Savio Joseph Mendez on Tuesday, 10 September 2019
All pictures from Savio Jospeh Mendez's FB account.