Infrastructure boom waiting to happen in Kochi

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Investments in infrastructure are flowing into Kochi in a never before fashion, promising to change the face of the city.

The Cities Development Initiative Asia (CDIA) is the latest to pump in money. The initiative, assisting Asian cities to bridge the infrastructure investment gap, has offered Rs.450 crore. The money will be added to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) aid. Kochi and Chennai have been selected in the first phase from Indian cities in the race for funds.

A CDIA team, led by Nadir Ehsan, Senior Municipal Development Specialist, was in Kochi recently. The areas in which the agency’s aid will be utilised will be finalised after a pre-feasibility study. Environment, traffic, road design and urban planning experts will carry it out.

The civic authorities hope to use the aid for creating a smooth and efficient urban road transport system. They have identified “monumental flyovers” which will serve as the most functional system to solve traffic jams.

A flyover each has been planned on Salim Rajan Road and the Vyttila-Thripunithura stretch and at Kacheripadi. A final decision will be taken after the study and presentations by CDIA experts before the Kochi Corporation Council, civic authorities say.

Other projects

Among those to be taken up under various other infrastructure schemes are five roads projects, three railway overbridges at level crossings which hold up traffic and a premium bus service.

The overbridges have been proposed at Atlantis along Kizhuvana Road, Pachalam along Chittoor Road and Ponnurunni along the Vyttila-Thammanam road.

The Pachalam project will get Rs.53.55 crore, the Atlantis project, Rs.18.86 crore and the Ponnurunni one, Rs.13.06 crore.

Stadium Link Road will get JNNURM assistance of Rs.5.12 crore and the Thamannam-Pullepady road Rs.14.94 crore. The Goshree-Mamangalam road will get Rs.25.78 crore, whereas Sahodaran Ayyappan Road and its junction improvement project will get Rs.8.96 crore. The widening and upgrading of the Edapally-High Court Road segment to international standards will get Rs.16.21 crore.

The Goshree-Pachalam-Mamangalam road is a minor road for local traffic. “Presently, only local traffic movement to reach the other parts of the city is envisaged. The present road corridor has been proposed for improvement in view of the proposed container terminal and LNG Terminal in Goshree and Vallarpadam areas,” a project report says. The suggested improvements will help in decongesting Banerjee Road, say civic authorities.

Corporation authorities say the Stadium Link Road project stretch is proposed to be developed as one of the important links on the north-south corridor connecting major commercial hubs of the city with outside traffic. It can ease the traffic on Banerjee and Thammanam roads, the report says.

For the Sahodaran Ayyappan Road (West extension) project, the civic authorities propose to widen the road to 22 metres and straighten it to avoid traffic jams. It has been proposed to connect this road with Church Landing Road so that traffic can move to the centre city commercial area easily.

For the Edappally-High Court Road and junction project, the proposal is to have maximum road width. All possible traffic furniture has been suggested to increase the road utility. Streetlights and bus bays will be provided.

Bus service

The city bus service project will require around Rs.235 crore. The buses will cost Rs.85.5 crore. Another Rs.150 crore will be required for the bus terminals.

N. Ramachandran, Secretary of the Ministry for Urban Development, says, “The demand from the average passenger is in terms of quality of service, safety, reliability, efficiency and comfort. There is a mismatch between the expectations and the actual availability of public transport.”

Therefore, says Mr. Ramachandran in the concept note of the project, “it would be essential that quality buses are introduced for city transport. This would not only change the mindset of people about buses but also help in improving the image of the city.”

There will be AC, non-AC and low-floor buses, offering a choice to people to opt for the comforts offered by the public transport system. This will reduce the number of vehicles entering the city, said Deputy Mayor C.K. Manisankar at a meeting of the Kochi Corporation council which discussed the project.

A concept note circulated among the stakeholders says: “The present day city buses continued to suffer from poor brand image. They are not user-friendly and continued to be ergonomically poorly designed.” The buses are unfit for use by physically challenged persons, are fuel guzzling and low on passenger comfort and are not enabled with the Intelligent Transport System (ITS).

The new fleet in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram will satisfy the “minimum recommended specifications across the country to facilitate introduction of ITS-enabled modern city bus service.”

The ITS-enabled buses and vehicles will have engine diagnostic tools, a wide range of onboard entertainment facilities including wireless phones, radios, TVs and games. They will be fitted with GPS devices. The travel in the city buses, hopes the authorities, should become a pleasurable experience in place of the harrowing and unpleasant experience now.

The concept of the modern city bus service can be sold to the public as a branded product and people can take pride in travelling by public transport. Modern buses should be sleek and ergonomically designed, facilitate level boarding and alighting and have comfortable seating and suspension, an advanced passenger information system and vehicle information and tracking systems. They should be passenger-friendly, especially for the physically challenged, and offer electronic fare collection, among the requirements, the concept note outlines.

The Kochi Corporation hopes to collaborate with the State government and the Transport Department in the Special Purpose Vehicle to be formed for managing the bus service.

But a few issues on the management of the fleet and the economic viability of the project remain.

The daunting task before the authorities will be to overcome the intense competition from the private bus operators.


21/03/2009 – language: English – posted by telematics

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