After the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) announced an increase in toll rates at its toll plazas in keeping with the wholesale price index (WPI), the residents of Mulavukad and other areas in the Goshree Islands have demanded clarity on the monthly pass granted to their non-commercial vehicles, and the implementation of the long-pending proposal to ready service roads and install street lights on the 16-km-long Container Road. The NHAI must complete construction of service roads on the stretch, especially at Mulavukad, as was promised at many meetings, said Abhijit K. John, president of a group of residents’ associations in Mulavukad. It had also not yet installed street lights on the accident-prone stretch, he said.
The NHAI must issue a clarification on the exemptions granted to people living in panchayats through which the road passed, he said.
The Container Road Vehicle Travellers’ Group, a WhatsApp collective, too had expressed concern over accidents and anti-social activities on the ill-lit stretch of the national highway.
Many light vehicles take a turn from both ends of Mulavukad to avoid paying toll. A few activists had even made a video to guide motorists through the route. “This is putting undue pressure on narrow panchayat roads that vary in width from 4 m to 7 m. Many motorists take the alternative route, not knowing that its width fluctuates and narrows down on the southern side,” said Mr. John.
Haphazard and illegal parking by container lorries on the Container Road and its service roads is another issue. Half a dozen people have lost their life in Mulavukad alone due to this. The NHAI has not installed direction boards and readied safety measures even at the roundabout from where the Container Road begins. All those were in addition to the crimes taking place and garbage being dumped under the cover of darkness along the entire road, he said.
NHAI sources said the toll hike was done every year across toll plazas in tune with the rise in WPI. The concerns of residents in the vicinity would be addressed. Measures were under way to step up safety on the corridor, including readying of street lights, they said.