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9 hours to remove truck, city choked

Calcutta, Nov. 17: Police took nine hours — one hour more than the time to fly to Frankfurt from Calcutta — to remove a trailer truck that toppled and blocked one flank of Vidyasagar Setu today.

As two departments of the city police bungled and blamed each other for not taking “prompt action”, Calcutta traffic went for a toss.

Five cranes usually used to tow away cars were brought after two hours but they were too feeble.

By the time the decision was taken to call the disaster management group, over four hours had passed. DMG officials used gas cutters to separate the trailer from its chassis, open the two containers to unload them before dragging them to one side of the flank.

Hundreds remained stuck on roads for hours as traffic on the Howrah-bound flank had to be stopped. Many from south Calcutta struggled to reach Howrah station on time. Almost five hours after the accident, the Calcutta-bound flank was turned two-way but it wasn’t enough to handle vehicles from both directions.

Hundreds heading for Howrah had to depend on the river traffic to reach their destinations. But those travelling in private cars had to wait for over three hours to cross the bridge and reach Shibpur.

Officers of Hastings police station, under whose jurisdiction the accident happened, rushed to the spot. However, with no means to counter a situation like this, the cops apparently waited for an hour-and-a-half for traffic police personnel to take over.

Calcutta police considers the time between 6am and midnight as “traffic hours”, when the traffic police are responsible for road accidents.

However, allegations have surfaced over the role of the local police station and the Lalbazar control room as to why they didn’t make an exception today and inform the traffic immediately.

Sources in Lalbazar, however, claimed the control room had informed the traffic control room about the accident “on time”. “There’s a possibility that there was no one in the traffic control room after 4am. The next shift begins at 6am,” an officer in Lalbazar said.