Visakhapatnam

Bad roads, overloading leading to deaths in Visakhapatnam district

Tirumala ghat road. File photo   | Photo Credit: K.V. Poornachandra Kumar

In 2017, 357 people died and about 1,200 received serious injuries in 336 fatal road accidents in Visakhapatnam district. Of the total deaths, about 120 were in Visakhapatnam Agency and most of the accidents took place on the ghat roads of Araku and Paderu mandals.

To reach both Araku and Paderu from the plains, one has to drive through a stretch that snakes through the dense forest of the Eastern Ghats. Though the length of both the ghat roads varies between 60 and 70 km, there are about 20 potent accident-prone zones. But what worries the police the most is the connecting roads between the villages, as the accident rate is higher on those roads.

Even those roads are ghat roads, as the entire Agency is located on the hill ranges of Eastern Ghats, said Superintendent of Police Rahul Dev Sharma.

Vulnerable zones

According to the police, the roads connecting Paderu, Chintapalli and Anantagiri are dangerous stretches. There are a number of hairpin bends, and visibility at the bends is almost nil. It needs experience to negotiate these steep bends, as one cannot see the oncoming vehicles, said a police officer.

 

Apart from the sharp bends and steep incline, the other major factor that contribute to accidents is overloading.

The total extent of Visakhapatnam Agency is about 6,200 sq km and home to about 3,600 tribal hamlets, and of them close to 1,100 villages lack any form of connectivity. People residing in these villages trek about 5 to 20 km to reach a road point to travel to mandal headquarters or a bigger village or for that matter to the weekly shandy (market place).

The public transport is yet to pick up as desired and people tend to board the popular mode of transport, which are generally four-wheel drive jeeps. “Though the capacity of a jeep is 8 to 10, these private transport operators pack over 25 to 30 people in one trip. Most of the accidents happen when the drivers of the overloaded vehicles lose balance at sharp bends and the vehicles skid off road or overturn,” said DSP, Chintapalli, P. Anil Kumar.

 

Most of the roads that cut through the hills are single-track roads in a bad condition. They get worse during monsoon, as the potholes get exposed and slush slips down from the hill slopes making the roads slippery. There is no lighting and driving during night can be a dangerous proposition.

Drunk driving

The other major factors contributing to the accidents are drunk driving and overspeeding. Since there is no check, most of the drivers are drunk and they tend to overspeed.

 

There have been a number of cases, where the drivers failed to control the overloaded vehicles at bends, as they were under the influence of alcohol or ganja, said a police officer. “Controlling drunk driving is difficult for us, as our primary duty is to contain the Maoists and maintain law and order,” said the officer.

Police initiative

According to a survey by the Road Transport Authority, about 80% of the drivers in the Agency areas are not experienced, a number of them are underage and do not hold a driving licence.

To stem this problem, the district police have launched a unique programme to train youth in four-wheeler and autorickshaw driving and are helping them obtain a licence. So far, about 300 tribal youth have undergone one-month training and now hold driving licences, said Mr. Sharma.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 5:58:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/bad-roads-overloading-leading-to-deaths-in-visakhapatnam-district/article25018046.ece

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