The tragic incident in which a 28-year-old died after running on to a television cable hanging low across the road in West Kochi has drawn attention to the threat posed by the increasing volume of container trucks on city roads.
It has emerged that a container truck had rammed the post leaving the cable hanging across the road. The victim, Nouroz Sait, missed the cable in the night and was thrown off the bike when his neck got entangled in the cable.
A senior Motor Vehicles Department official (MVD) said huge container lorries on city roads posed multiple problems. For one, there are many hurdles in taking action against container lorries found violating the laws. “As soon as they are detained, pressure is exerted from all corners to release them. Any action against container lorries is being portrayed as an effort to help the Tuticorin port at the expense of Kochi port,” he said.
The height of the container lorries posed another danger. The containers were found rubbing against and, in some cases, hitting the branches of trees at many points. The possibility of containers falling off from the lorries in the impact of such contacts and thereby causing fatal accidents cannot be ruled out unless trees along such points are identified and the branches properly trimmed.
The long line of container lorries being parked unauthorised along the sides of the Vallarpadam Container Terminal Road was another problem, the MVD official said. “Traffic along the container terminal road has been effectively reduced to single lane by the piled up metals for road works on one side and the unauthorised parking of container lorries on the other,” he said.
Incidents of container lorry drivers engaging in over-speeding have become common. The newly introduced vehicles used as container carriers are very powerful machines and many drivers, mostly youngsters, are found driving it carelessly. “Besides, a large section of these drivers are found under the influence of intoxicants such as gutka. But unlike alcohol it cannot be detected using a machine,” the official said. He said the Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off) barge service meant for transporting container trucks to ICTT by avoiding Kochi’s busy city roads has not been completely effective either.
However, D. Dhanuraj, chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research, felt that rash and negligent driving or road rage accounted for a miniscule of accidents that made the city roads unsafe for motorists and pedestrians alike. He said that a combination of factors has left our roads bloody. “We have neither understood nor comprehended the concept of a liveable city. Besides, our concept of a street is restricted to just a road. The absence of sidewalks, badly designed traffic junctions, unscientifically erected electric posts, which should have been relocated underground long back, all add to the chaos. In short, the city was planned without a vision,” Mr. Dhanuraj said.
Dejo Kappen of Centre for Consumer Education said the frequency of freak accidents would only increase, given the huge gulf between road development and increasing vehicle population. “To make matters worse, roads meant for the movement of people and vehicles are being appropriated by lorry and autorickshaw operators as parking lots,” he said.