The Deputy Commissioner of Transport (Central Zone) P. K. Stephen, who conducted the scientific inspection on Tuesday’s bus accident at Thazhathangadi which claimed 11 lives, on Thursday, ruled out the possibility of technical snags of the vehicle leading to the mishap and pointed the possibility of human error leading to the accident. The report will be formally submitted to the Minister for Transport on Friday, he said.
Briefing media persons after inspecting the accident site and the vehicle, Mr. Stephen said close examination has proved that the driver had not used the break system at the time of the accident. The bus had hit an electric post, a telephone post and moved 10.5 meters before it hit a survey stone demarcating the PWD road boundary and fell into the river.
The inspection found that the left front tyre had hit the stone causing the bus to change direction and fall into the river, he said.
It has also come to notice that the bus operator had made alterations in seating after the routine inspection of the Transport Department officials last month, by adding one seat in front of the emergency exit at the back.
The operator also had put an additional iron rod across the emergency exit. While this was illegal, this rod had helped many passengers to hold on and get out of the vehicle when it slowly plunged into the depth, according to Mr. Stephen. However, that the window shutters on the one side were downed by the passengers to protect themselves from the scorching sun might have hindered the escape rout through the windows on that side.
He also pointed to the discrepancies in the deposition of the driver who had claimed that the steering bend had developed snags. This has proved to be factually incorrect. He had had also claimed about the presence of a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, but repeated questioning has proved this too was incorrect. Though he was a licensed driver, he was new to the vehicle and his experience in using power- steering too has to be ascertained, he said.
State wide Inspection
He said following the accident at Thazhathangadi, the Motor Vehicle Department has launched a State-wide inspection of vehicles to ensure that illegal alterations were not made by operators.
Meanwhile , the driver of the ill-fated bus, who was arrested by police on Wednesday, was produced before Kottayam First Class Magistrate and has been remanded to Kottayam sub jail for 15 days.