The skywalk built in front of Nexus Mall, across Hosur Road in Koramangala has not been working over the past four years.
Rishikesh and his girlfriend, both college-going students had just finished lunch and some shopping. They sauntered out of Nexus shopping mall to the skywalk and cursed. The escalator was still not functional. With a sigh escaping their lips, they started the trek up the long flight of stairs to catch an auto on the other side of the busy road in Koramangala.
Of the 50 skywalks in Bangalore, only a few have escalators or lifts. More than 29 do not have working escalators, said Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP) officials on the basis of complaints received. However, they said that they are yet to do routine checks. Elderly people, the specially-abled and college students find it difficult to use the staircase instead of the escalator.
A 65-year-old cleaning woman said, “I recently had a knee surgery and it has not fully healed. I still push through to earn a living and to provide for my family. The escalator makes it faster and easier for me to cross the traffic congested road and it annoys me that I cannot use it.”
M.N Sreehari, a traffic specialist, said, “A huge number of people do not really know the point of an escalator and hence most of the times, it remains unused, a public amenity left unused can turn into a place where people can use it for drinking making it unsafe. It is like the underpasses that we have in Bangalore, unsafe and under maintained.” He added, “BBMP officials must make sure it works and more awareness should be given by traffic cops to use the safer option instead of crossing the road without thought.”
Naveen, a technical engineer from BBMP said, “Skywalks are built to make life easier for pedestrians. They help avoid accidents in congested areas.” He added, “We are yet to do routine checks on the skywalks as a part of the infrastructural development plan by the BBMP.” He also said that contractors and workers are allotted one skywalk according to the zones that they are working in; it takes more than a week to just inspect the skywalk to understand the issue. The complaint is then sent to the main office to work on which takes a month to review it further.”
A family who had wanted to visit the mall tried crossing the road; their specially abled son was afraid of heavy traffic noises. The father asked, “The authorities who built this skywalk did a great thing by initiating escalators and lifts, nevertheless don’t they have to check it every now and then to see if it actually works?” He added, “My son has crutches to help him walk, the escalator would be of such great help to him. It shocks me that the huge money invested in town planning and infrastructural development is going to waste.”
Dr. Anil Kumar Grampurohit, Police Sub- Inspector (PSI) from the Traffic Management Centre said, “Skywalks are meant to connect two pathways on either side of a heavy traffic junction. A skywalk with escalators and lifts helps people who can’t take the staircase.” He added, “People who see that the escalators are not working try to cross the road in a hurry. It is not always safe to cross roads filled with traffic. There is a reason why those skywalks are built; BBMP must take initiative to scrutinize public amenities.”
Rishikesh and his girlfriend said, “We had just finished shopping and had plenty of food. We are tired and have heavy bags to carry, we have used the escalator several times and it has never been a problem when it was just built. However, it does not work now and it only makes it difficult to cross this place which is also quite dangerous.”
Kumar also said, “Many accidents take place, many people mindlessly cross dangerous junctions. On the other hand, several vehicles do not pass at a controlled speed. In a span of few months, at least five accidents take place in various parts of the city.”
Vikram Bhat, an urban designer said, “The elderly and specially-abled people should have other means of crossing like a simple layover bridge on the road that doesn’t have much of a height difference adjacent to the road. The skywalk is just an extra fitting unless used to its full potential; a lot of the people who are in a hurry don’t really use the skywalk.” He added, “Escalators and lifts is a good idea but there seems to be no point of it if there is no maintenance.”