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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Accident exposes NH-44 management loopholes

SILCHAR, Dec 19: The fatal accident of a night super bus that killed eight and injured many people after it fell into Looba river at Sonapur in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya last morning has exposed many loopholes in highway management. The bus was running under Puja Travels of the Tripura State Road Transport Corporation. The tragic accident has brought to the fore the negligence and the laxity of the law enforcing agencies concerned.

The 35-passenger capacity bus had on  board 53 passengers and was overloaded with huge quantity of luggage, complained Lalthanga Darlong and Debendra Das, two injured passengers. The bus all the way from Guwahati had crossed many check gates starting from Jorabat to Umkiang, a few kilometres from the site of accident, the passengers added and said that even at Umkiang, the bus was not detained for checking.

On the other hand, although the names of all the 35 passengers including that of the assistant driver were listed, the name of the deceased driver was not mentioned. According to some of the injured, the driver and his assistant were picking up way side passengers randomly. A BSF jawan Nabal Bora, who was injured in the accident, alleged that the driver was driving the bus in a drunken state and was picking up high speed ignoring all caution of passengers to regulate speed.

It was clear from yesterday’s incident that vehicles running along the NH-44 were not subjected to checks for taking in excess passengers and luggage and goods beyond their capacity which could prevent tragic mishaps. It is a general allegation of passengers that the drivers of night super buses drive vehicles under the influence of liquor which is provided to them free along with their food at wayside hotels. In fact, the safety and security of passengers are never given priority by the transport agencies as well as those responsible for enforcing traffic rules.

The very purpose of the check gates and highway patrolling by police is called into question by the travelling public. Sonapur has been identified as an accident-prone zone due to disturbed geo-physic factors which include the rising of the river bed, meandering along the highway and an unstable land mass which is considerably sinking.

A Mizoram State transport corporation bus and two loaded trucks coming from Shillong had a miraculous escape earlier, sources said. Before the vehicles slided in slush and mud rolling down from the hills, the passengers and drivers managed to come out of the vehicles.

The most tragic accident that took place on this highway was the death of seven people travelling in a private passenger bus which skidded in the slush on the spot and rolled down the Loobha river. The body of one of the passengers was recovered at Sunamganj in Bangladesh. THE SENTINEL

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