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Dark freeway draws blood, again

- Four-lane guardian promises lights in 10 days, commuters sceptical

Devil’s driveway, aka the Adityapur-Kandra four-lane, has claimed its fourth victim in three months.

A 20-year-old student of Xavier Institute for Tribal Education (XITE) in Gamharia — identified as Ranchi native Prem Kumar Lakra — was knocked off his bike by a speeding truck around 11pm on Sunday. He died of his injuries before a police team reached the spot.

Witnesses said the youth was riding his two-wheeler at a moderate speed and was hit from behind. “He was not at fault. The road was unlit at 11pm and the truck was plying at breakneck speed,” one of them said.

Gamharia OC Mani Bhushan Prasad confirmed that the youth was run over by a speeding heavy vehicle, which managed to escape towards Kandra. “No one could note down the registration number of the truck. So, we are yet to track it down,” he defended police inaction.

Local residents claimed the recently widened road had become a mishap magnet because there was no police leash on speed demons.

Besides, the entire freeway remains in the dark after the sun goes down.

“The Gamharia police station is only a stone’s throw from the Adityapur-Kandra Road, but accidents continue to happen because the stretch is not lit up and there is no one to check speedsters. This was perhaps the tenth major accident since November last year. The victim’s condition was such that he could not be lifted for medical aid. By the time police arrived, he was dead,” said resident Kanhaiya Singh.

Sources said streetlights had glowed along the road on December 31, the day the four-lane was formally inaugurated by former chief minister Arjun Munda. They were last lit up on January 1.

Jharkhand Accelerated Road Development Company Limited, which built the four lanes, had cited “some fault” in the electrical fittings. Its senior manager Alok Mani had said things would be set right by January 4, but three weeks down the line the promise rings hollow.

Confronted again on Monday, he admitted that commuters were “facing hardships” in the absence of streetlights. “We have applied to the Jharkhand State Electricity Board for fresh connections. The lamps will light up within the next 10 days for certain,” he promised again.

Baidyanath Gope, who runs a roadside hotel in Gamharia, was sceptical.

“Ever since the road has been widened, accidents have become routine. Trucks speed even on rugged roads and this one is smooth as butter. So, there is no stopping them. Streetlights are urgent, but god knows when the dark stretch will be lit up. It may at least decrease the frequency of mishaps,” he said.

Since January 1, this was the eighth accident and the second fatal one on the Adityapur-Kandra four-lane, which was unofficially opened to vehicles since November 2012.

Last Friday morning, an unidentified man in his early thirties was run over by a truck while he was crossing the road near Gamharia circle office. Two more people died on the same road in separate accidents in November and December. While one was mowed down by a dumper near Beco More, the other was hit by a mini-truck near Kandra.

Have you ever faced trouble crossing the Adityapur- Kandra Road at night?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com