Kochi: As the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had failed to act on the district collector’s ultimatum to repair damaged sections of the Aroor-Edappally NH bypass, he issued an order to withdraw the collection of toll charges which came into effect on Sunday morning. It was on Saturday evening, that collector M.G Rajamanickam issued the order to NHAI under Section 133 of the CrPC.
Meanwhile, the toll booth at Aroor witnessed noisy scenes on Sunday morning when the contractor of NHAI forcefully tried to collect toll charges from motorists. The contractor called police as the passengers and local residents prevented toll collection. He asserted that the toll could not be withdrawn unless he got a copy of the order. Later, the contractor left the scene as the collector warned of strict action if the toll was collected.
Local residents and motorists have been on a warpath against the National Highway authorities over the poor state of the road and the agency’s apathy over carrying out repairs.
There have been widespread complaints against imposing toll without undertaking any repair works on the road. Last week, the district collector had instructed NHAI to repair the potholes on the bypass including those on the Kumbalam-Aroor bridge within a week or else the toll collection would be stopped.
Meanwhile, the NHAI blamed heavy rains for the delay in completing the repair work. During a high-level meeting convened by Minister for Public Works V.K Ebrahim Kunju to discuss the emergency road repair works, the NHAI project director C.T Abraham and other officials said that it was due to heavy rains that the repair works were put on hold.
Bridges and roads in the Kundanoor-Aroor stretch remain riddled with potholes. In other areas like Nettoor, Kundanoor and Chalikkavattom also, potholes are found in the middle of road.