Kochi Residents Use Music To Protest Against Potholes on NH-66

Kochi Residents Use Music To Protest Against Potholes on NH-66

My Report

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam, Mohd Ibrahim
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati

Tired of trying to escape the potholed-filled roads of Kochi, a few residents gathered in front of the gateway to the city, Aroor Toll Plaza, on 17 September, to protest against government inaction.

The road in question is National Highway-66, for which toll tax is regularly collected but the potholes are never fixed!

(Photo Courtesy: Rittu J Jacob)

Savyo Joseph, a prominent DJ in Kochi, got together with a fellow citizen Gauri Lakshmi and decided to organise the protest with the help of their friends. He said:

“This (protest) is by the public and for the public. We have been paying taxes for 15 years, and we’ve been paying the toll, but we don’t have good roads. From Edappally toll to Aroor toll, we have to wait at least two hours in traffic.”

Also Read : NHA Shoddily Repairs Road After Rajkot Man Buries Self in Pothole

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The protesters decided to become human placards and sang a song titled, “We need good roads.”

“I hail from Cherthala and I travel to Ernakulam (Kochi) three to four days in a week. Everyone is suffering from the same misery. There are no roads in Kundannoor or Vytilla. However, they collect tolls without fail.”
Gauri Lakshmi

The placards read, “It starts with you, stand up for someone’s rights today,” another one read, “We need road rules, we need safe roads.”

Everyone present at the demonstration said that while taxes are collected regularly, they are not being put to good use. A majority of the protestors, who were cyclists, raised the issue of safe commute.

“We are cyclists. Every morning, we go for our practice rides. From Vytilla to Kundannoor, it’s really horrible. We can’t even cycle properly; there are so many potholes. There is not even a proper road, mostly mud and sand.”
Lorraine D’Costa, Local

She added, “toll plazas and national highways are supposed to make commutes shorter and faster. But they are doing just the opposite of it.”

Others said traffic was being caused due to potholes.

“The main problem is that we don’t get the good roads that we deserve. And it’s for that initiative, we decided to have a peaceful protest here at the toll junction where they are collecting tolls on the National Highway. This stretch  is 16-km long but it takes around two to three hours to cover.”
Hemanth, Local

Protesters’ demands include regular maintenance of roads in and around the city. The primary agencies responsible for the maintenance of the roads in Kochi include the City Corporation, Greater Cochin Development Authority and the PWD (Public Works Department).

“There is no responsible action taken by the government and the authorities. That’s why we have gathered here to protest. We do not know if this will yield a positive result, but if people who are watching this, decide to not pay the toll until these roads are repaired, then we think it will be better.”
Gauri Lakshmi 

On 4 September, District Collector S Suhas in his Facebook post warned of legal action against officials who don’t fix roads within two weeks. The post also listed the 45 roads in the city which require urgent attention. One can hope the protest changes things in Kochi.

Also Read : Potholes in Aarey Colony a Nightmare, But Who Will Listen?

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