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Bus hits rickshaw, teacher dies

- Vehicle set on fire after accident, four pedestrians injured
Flames leap out of the bus in Patna on Saturday and (below) the mangled cycle-rickshaw. Pictures by Ranjeet Kumar Dey

Patna, April 26: A 55-year-old woman was killed this morning on Exhibition Road after a city bus hit the rickshaw she was in.

A City Ride bus with the registration number BR 12A 6920 was coming down the Chiraiyatand railway overbridge around 9.30am when it lost control. The vehicle was on its way to Patna Junction from Bhootnath Road in the Kankerbagh area. Supposed to take a left turn from an intersection after coming down the bridge, the driver went straight towards Exhibition Road.

Four others were injured in the accident. Residents of the area set the bus on fire but failed to catch the driver who had fled the spot.

Police said the brakes of the bus — in a rickety condition — had failed leading to the mishap.

Leela Kumari, a 55-year-old teacher at a government primary school in Goriatoli, was on a cycle-rickshaw when the bus hit it. She fell and was declared brought dead at the hospital.

After hitting Leela, the bus also hit four pedestrians before coming to a halt. While the injured were rushed to Patna Medical College and Hospital, angry residents set the bus on fire in the middle of the busy Exhibition Road.

An officer at the Gandhi Maidan police station said none of the four pedestrians was seriously injured and were under treatment at the time of filing this report.

He added: “The brakes of the City Ride bus failed on the Chiraiyatand road overbridge leading to the accident. We have lodged an FIR against the driver who fled the scene after the mishap. The owner of the bus can also file an FIR against the people who set the bus ablaze, but no such report has been filed yet.”

Incidents of City Ride buses losing control or breaking down on thoroughfares are quite common in Patna. As recent as Thursday, a City Ride bus had hit a middle- aged man on Hartali Mor.

Umesh Sinha, the general secretary of Nagar Seva Mini-Bus Owners’ Association, said: “The process of getting driving licence is quite stringent in Patna. In order to avoid the hassle, many drivers come up with driving licences issued from outside the state, for instance Jharkhand. The transport department should simplify the process of issuing driving licences,” said Sinha.

A reaction on the demands could not be elicited from senior transport department officers today as they could not be contacted.

Sources said around 375 mini-buses (including the one set on fire today) run under the City Service Mini Bus Seva, out of which, more than 100 are expected to be older than 15 years.

The transport authority, in its meeting on July 15 last year, had decided to stop the operation of buses, tempos, autorickshaws and school buses older than 15 years old in the Patna City area.

The decision was taken in the light of an order issued by the Supreme Court in 1998, banning commercial vehicles and cars more than 15 years old. The operators were asked to replace the dilapidated vehicles with new ones on the same permit within three months.

Though the deadline passed couple of months ago, the ramshackle buses continue to ply in the city. On being asked why the buses are not being replaced, Sinha said: “The government should provide an incentive to the bus owners for the same by providing subsidy to buy new buses.”

The option of providing subsidy arises only when the buses run in association with the state government. But these City Ride buses are privately operated.