The blood on Khel Gaon Road is refusing to dry up.
The inviting stretch that leads to Jharkhand’s pride — the Jaipal Singh Munda Mega Sports Complex in Hotwar — has been an unperturbed witness to as many as 14 fatal accidents since January, six of them in the past two months alone.
The most recent victim was 22-year-old student and Dipatoli resident Luv Kumar. The only child of a police driver, Luv was crossing the road on Wednesday, when a speeding truck coming from Tatisilwai ran him over.
The accident took place between 8am and 10pm — a time when heavy vehicles are not allowed entry on Khel Gaon Road, one of the best motorable roads in the state that connects Booty More and Kokar Road to Tatisilwai via the mega sports complex.
But rogue truckers is just the tip of the problem iceberg.
Flawed road design, confusing signalling system, unauthorised parking and inadequate number of zebra crossings connive with reckless driving and callous traffic monitoring to snuff out young lives, many of them students.
The T-intersection towards Tatisilwai is the worst mishap magnet. “This is because there are no speedbreakers or zebra crossings here, while vehicles pass the three-point at high speed,” said traffic constable R.K. Singh.
“If a vehicle is coming from the mega sports complex side at top speed, it is bound to hit another vehicle while taking a right for Booty More. The traffic flow is very heavy and collisions are frequent,” Singh, who mans a part of the killer stretch, added.
He claimed that the signals were confusing. “When you allow a right turn, you have to stop vehicles coming from the opposite left. But both signals go green at the same time. So, you cannot rein in drivers from either direction,” he said.
Heedless heavy vehicles only add to the accident toll.
“Though entry timings are fixed for trucks and buses, no one follows the rule, while traffic policemen stand mute spectators,” claimed a commuter.
Subir Banerjee, a resident of Khel Gaon, agreed. “Not only this, half of the road is encroached upon by trucks throughout the day despite the stretch being a strict no-parking zone. This creates congestion, hinders long-distance visibility and leads to accidents,” Banerjee said.
SP (traffic) R.K. Prasad shrugged responsibility, saying that it was the duty of traffic constables on the spot to control the situation.
The latter pleaded helplessness. “Every transporter has clout and contacts. Sometimes top politicians or industrialists call us and ask us to drop the case. We can’t do anything,” a traffic policeman said, requesting anonymity.
Commuters, however, said that no policeman mans the stretch in the afternoon. A constable admitted the same, blaming lack of a kiosk.
“At least there should be a shed, where we can sit for sometime, have lunch or rest in turns. We can’t just keep standing in the sun or in the rain for 8-10 hours at a stretch,” the constable said.
When confronted with these issues, the traffic SP spilled the beans and claimed the entire stretch of road needed to be revamped.
“The roads slope from all three sides, which increases the momentum of vehicle. This flaw needs to be corrected first. Then, there is urgent need for speedbreakers at least half a kilometre before the signal on all three intersecting roads, followed by consecutive bumps at 200 metres. This will control speed. Last but not the least, there aren’t any road signs, zebra crossings, go slow mandates, et al, to check road accidents,” Prasad said.
He stressed that since the traffic department didn’t have a fund of its own for such revamp, the transport department should look into the matter. Transport officials passed the buck on the road construction department. Road secretary N.N. Sinha said they could act only on a proper proposal.
Who should be made to pay for deaths on Khel Gaon Road?