Unscientific road shoulders on NH66 causing fatal accidents

They have claimed nearly 300 lives in the past two decades

A spate of recent accidents caused by the steep gap between the tarred road and ill-kept road shoulders at many places on the Edappally-Moothakunnam NH 66 corridor has sent alarm bells ringing.

Accidents have become the norm, since the PWD (NH Wing), which resurfaced many parts of the corridor recently, failed to raise road shoulders on either side. “The 22-km-long NH corridor is very accident prone and has claimed the life of around 300 people during the past two decades. Two young motorbike riders were the latest to die in an accident that occurred three weeks ago at Thirumuppam. It happened because they lost control of the bike which slid off the road’s steep edge, following which they fell on the road and were run over by a lorry. The height difference between the road and its shoulder is over a feet in many places,” said Joseph U.P., an activist of the local unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has launched an agitation on the issue.

The tarred surface of the busy stretch has hardly two-lane width. Vehicles often have to deviate from the tarred surface, while giving side to other vehicles, or to stay safe when vehicles come overtaking others from the other side. This has been causing fatal and non-fatal accidents in the corridor. Making matters worse, the PWD has not painted zebra lines and road markings to demarcate lanes. Warning boards and street lights too are lacking in many accident-prone areas.

As an immediate measure, road shoulders too must be raised and strengthened, to prevent accidents and pooling of water on the side which ultimately damages the road, he added.

Party activists organised a signature campaign and submitted a memorandum to the PWD officials concerned, demanding remedial measures to avert accidents.

Sources in the PWD said the road was officially handed over to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in 2020 for widening. “The PWD is currently resurfacing the stretch, following which the handing-over process will be taken up. The contractor who undertook the work has been directed to raise road shoulders by filling a metre of the shoulder on either side with red earth, since members of the public and residents associations are flooding us with complaints of accidents occurring due to unscientific construction work,” they added.

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