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Human Life Is Cheap

Government departments must work together to prevent death on roads

THE accident involving several vehicles on the Old-Goa-Ribandar bypass at the Chimbel junction snuffed out the life of a young person on Thursday. Three persons received serious injuries in the accident in which a tanker loaded with bromide waste hit seven other vehicles. The driver of the tanker claimed that brakes of his vehicle failed while he was on the slope, which led to the accident. This is not the first accident at the spot and perhaps would not be the last. According to the local residents, there are frequent accidents along the stretch; there were eight other accidents in the recent past. Most accidents go unreported because the people involved in them tend to settle among themselves rather than getting involved in cumbersome legal process. It is not that the state authorities were not aware of the risks to life in the accident-prone area, but they failed to take measures to eliminate them. Each department has a litany of complaints against the other. The truth is that all government departments are expected to work in a coordinated way, so that life of the people is not put to risk.  The utter negligence and lack of coordinated action and supervision has been causing accidents on the Old-Goa-Ribandar bypass at the Chimbel junction. Human life should not be considered so cheap.

According to the local residents, the accident on Thursday was the gravest, which made it to the police records because it was severe and a life was lost. They have been witness to other accidents that did not arouse so much public attention. They resorted to a road blockade later in the day to draw the attention of the authorities and put pressure on them to take steps to regulate traffic. And it was only after their protest that officials reached the spot to pacify them. Traffic regulation should be a routine matter. It is extremely necessary that traffic policemen are deployed at the junction on a regular basis. Let us hope that the accident would now propel the government to take the issue of road safety and movement of vehicles at least in accident prone areas of the state seriously.

Accidents on roads are routine in Goa, which claim about 300 lives on an average every year. Many of the accidents are attributed to bad road engineering, though rash and negligent driving are also major causes. In the case of the Thursday accident on the Old-Goa-Ribandar bypass at the Chimbel junction, it was a collective failure of all concerned government departments. There has to be a coordination committee of various agencies concerned with roads and road accidents that should keep visiting accident prone zones to make sure adequate measures are in place to prevent loss or injury to human life. There is no point in blaming each other after the loss of human lives. Despite knowing the dangerous conditions of the roads and presence of potholes, dangerous slopes and blind spots, little has been done to make the state roads safer. Had the state officials completed the work on the flyover at the Chimbel junction, the accident could have been prevented and the youth who lost his life in the tragic accident would have been alive. The work on the flyover started years ago but was abandoned after someone approached the court. The case been disposed of by the Bombay High Court at Goa. However, the work on the project is yet to resume.

That it took a life and injuries to several others for the authorities to swing into action appears to be pathetic and indicates indifference to road safety. The officials of concerned government agencies held a meeting on Friday to take steps to regulate traffic along the stretch and prevent further accidents and casualties. It has now been decided to widen the road and deploy police at the junction with speed measuring gadgets to keep a tab on over speeding vehicles. Deployment of police could serve as deterrence but law breakers tend to ignore directions and speed away. It is very difficult to trace such law breakers. Other measures such as traffic signals should also be in place in order to regulate speed and prevent over-speeding.

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