HYDERABAD: The worst accident in its history and facts emerging from initial inquiry have put the TSRTC in a dock over its standard operating procedures and maintenance of its fleet. Palle Vellugu inter-district buses, according to sources in the department, have been a major reason for losses being incurred by the Corporation. Was the accident a result of cost-cutting measures? Only a complete probe can tell.
Preliminary probe suggests only one thing: the driver was unable to negotiate a speed breaker on the road downhill, lost control over the wheel and the bus toppled off the steep J-shaped turn on the road and fell into the gorge. “There is no way the driver could have lost consciousness,” assures depot manager M Hanumant Rao, who has now been suspended.
“The road goes downhill and has speed breakers. We need to find out if the breaks failed to work while approaching the speed breaker, and if driver lost control after the speeding bus went over the speed breaker, eventually leading to the accident,” says Karimnagar regional manager of TSRTC, Jeevan Kumar.
All gaps in engineering are sure to be brought to the fore in the coming days, but the big question that needs to be addressed is if TSRTC buses are maintained in good condition. On several occasions TSRTC Chairman Somavarapu Satyanarayana has said the main reason that the Corporation was making losses was the Palle Vellugu fleet. Now, questions are being raised if maintenance of these loss-making buses was being ignored by the Corporation.
Meanwhile, the accident has also exposed the paltry and futile attempts to improve safety at the accident spot that claimed 57 lives. “Vertical barricades had been placed on the stretch. They were even there at the accident site. But the barricades were taken down by the bus that ploughed through it,” said T Krishna Prasad, Director General of road safety. “The main problem that we find at the moment is that the route should have been avoided. There was a longer route that was much safer for commute. Considering that the bus was overcrowded, the driver should have avoided the shorter and dangerous route,” he added.
‘They were the best’
Driver Srinivas and depot manager Hanumantha Rao were among the best in the department, according to colleagues. Rao was instrumental in boosting revenues for the Corporation, not just in Jagtial, but also across several other districts.
TSRTC chairman says their buses are safe
The Corporation chairman assured their buses were safe. “It is unfortunate that our excellent staff and drivers have been involved in this incident that claimed 56 lives. We want to ensure trust among our passengers that we check our buses every day for tyre pressure, engine health and such other important factors. The reason for suspension of the depot manager is that he made the driver ride take an unfamiliar route,” said Somavarapu Satyanarayana, Chairman, TSRTC