Reaching out to distressed souls

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The SOS box on NH-9 between Vijayawada and Nandigama.
The SOS box on NH-9 between Vijayawada and Nandigama.

K. Srimali

Patrol vehicle alerts the nearest toll plaza, where an ambulance and a tow-away crane are readily available

VIJAYAWADA: How do maintenance contractors of NH-9 and NH-5 in and around the city respond to emergencies like road accidents and vehicle breakdowns?

Swarna Tollway Private Limited, the BOT contractor of the 50-km stretch of NH-9 from Vijayawada to Nandigama, has installed orange colour boxes on poles on both sides of the road with letters SOS prominently written on them to get information from patrolling teams and highway users about emergency situations.

The boxes, imported from Malaysia, are the first-of-its-kind in the country, says K.V. Ramprasad, deputy manager (toll operations) of Swarna Tollway Private Limited.

The boxes have only a push button, which will have to be pressed to contact the emergency response team stationed at the toll plaza at Keesara to inform it about any accident or emergency on the highway.

In all, 50 boxes have been installed at the interval of every 2 km on both sides of the road.

Prank calls

“Our patrol teams keep moving on both sides of the highway, and once they cross an SOS box, they press the button and inform the control room at the toll plaza that the road is clear or that there is a problem that needs to be attended to,” says Mr. Ramprasad.

Though the boxes are also meant for highway users to use, the control room often gets prank calls because of the indiscriminate pressing of the button by children and lunatics.

“Such calls average 1,150 a month,” Mr. Ramprasad says.

The MBL Infrastructure Limited, which has recently been given the operation & maintenance contract of the 160-km stretch of NH-5 from Chilakaluripeta to Gundugolanu, mainly uses four patrol vehicles to monitor the situation on the highway.

“Local people have started recognising these vehicles and are familiar with the mobile phone number of the vehicle.

The patrol vehicle alerts the nearest toll plaza, where an ambulance and a tow-away crane will be readily available,” explains Anoj Maheshwari, Vice-President of MBL Infrastructure Limited.

He reveals that between December last and August this year, the patrol vehicles attended to 372 cases, while ambulances attended to 297 calls.

As many as 322 persons were given first aid and 339 were shifted to hospitals.



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