A fortnight after the accident in which 45 passengers were charred to death in a Hyderabad-bound bus from the city, the Tipu Sultan Palace Road in Kalasipalya, once again witnessed chaotic scenes on Thursday morning. For this is also where the office of the agency, National Travels, that operated the bus that caught fire in Haveri claiming seven lives, is situated.
Curious onlookers and residents of Kalasipalya crowded around the office, which was already surrounded by press and media persons since 7 a.m. when the news of the accident filtered in. While families of the accident victims were yet to reach the agency, Shakeel Ahmed, partner of National Travels Zameer Ahmed Khan Associates, maintained that all the necessary security measures were in place in the bus.
Mr. Shakeel Ahmed said Volvo Buses too must be held accountable for the accident as the bus, costing Rs. 1.1 crore, was purchased less than two months ago. The agency representatives said that there could also be a possible flaw in the bus design leading to the accident. They maintained they had followed all the security guidelines, adding that the bus had an emergency exit and was carrying only the baggage of the passengers on the night of the accident. He said that the agency had a five-year-permit from October 9 this year, and the bus was serviced as recently as a week ago by Volvo Buses, adding that the maintenance was carried out only at the facilities approved by the company. He also claimed that the two drivers Nawaaz (48) and Mujahid (42) were both trained for a week after the bus was purchased and issued certificates by Volvo. The two drivers had been associated with the travel agency for the last five years.
While some survivors claimed that the bus was travelling at a speed of over 100 kmph, Mr. Shakeel Ahmed said the bus could not go beyond 90 kmph due to speed governors. “Volvo too must be questioned regarding its design,” he said.
Owner for inquiry
Dharwad Staff Correspondent reports:
Janata Dal (Secular) leader and owner of National Travels B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan has urged the State government to order an inquiry into the possibility of there being technical faults in Volvo buses which may have led to the two accidents.
Speaking to presspersons after visiting the accident victims in Haveri on Thursday, Mr. Ahmed said it has been noticed that the buses which burst into flames near Mahabubnagar and in Haveri, were purchased in the last one and a half months. The driver of the Haveri bus was a well-trained person.
A comprehensive inquiry could shed light on the cause of the accidents, Mr. Zameer said.