Toll plaza in Kerala shut after 20 staff members test positive for coronavirus

Five among those who tested positive at the Paliyekkara toll plaza in Thrissur were handling money from vehicles.
Paliyekkara toll plaza
Paliyekkara toll plaza
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The Paliyekkara toll plaza in Kerala’s Thrissur district has been closed down after 20 staff there tested positive for the coronavirus. This was done on the direction of Thrissur’s District Medical Officer, KG Reena. The health department has asked all other staff working at the toll plaza to go into quarantine as well.

Among the 93 staff tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, 11 tested positive. Nine others had tested positive earlier. Five among the 20 who were positive were collecting money from vehicles at the toll booth, and 95 of their colleagues were in direct contact with them.

The district collector S Shanavas directed Guruvayur Infrastructure Private Limited, the company which runs the toll plaza, to provide quarantine facility to all the staff. The plaza will reportedly be reopened only after disinfecting the toll booths, and finding staff who didn’t come into contact with the other patients. The company has informed that it will take at least four days for the plaza to start functioning again.

The Paliyekkara toll plaza was previously shut down in March as well, after a COVID-19 outbreak there.

The Paliyekkara toll plaza started functioning on February 9, 2012, after the construction of the Mannuthy Edappally National Highway. As per reports, around Rs 100 crore is collected from the plaza every year. The company has permission to collect toll there until 2028.

The Paliyekkara toll plaza has garnered attention for various reasons over the years. According to reports, the toll collected more money than was spent on the construction of the national highway, by a margin of around Rs 80 crore. According to the rules, the toll should reduce if the cost of the highway’s construction is recovered. However, no reduction was done at Paliyekkara.  There were reports that the company has already collected more than the amount it spent to construct the road.

The toll plaza also experienced heavy traffic congestion for a period of time. Collection of toll digitally, through FASTAG, was made mandatory here before the union government made it mandatory. This created a lot of confusion among vehicle users, causing long lines at the toll plaza. However, this is not the case anymore.

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