HYDERABAD: The cash-strapped state-owned RTC is being perceived as the main culprit behind Tuesday’s mishap. The bus driver chose the ghat roads over a by-pass road that is a detour in order to save fuel and time. Considering the Tuesday rush, the driver was looking at generating more revenue by increasing the frequency of trips. While initial reports had suggested a brake failure as cause of the mishap, RTC has ruled out any fitness related issues. It emerged that the driver Srinivas, who has an experience of 25 years and was a recipient of ‘best driver award recently, was relatively new to the particular route.
In an attempt to generate more revenue for the Jagtial depot, the depot manager directed the bus driver to take the ghat roads to save time and fuel.The preliminary investigations highlighted that there has been “supervisory lapsed on the part of Jagtial depot manager. “We suspended the depot manager as there were supervisory lapses,” said Sunil Sharma, Principal Secretary, transport, roads and buildings.
When asked about the specific lapses, the senior officer replied: “a detailed inquiry would be done and action would be taken.” Raising a huge question mrk on the face of TSRTC in maintaining its fleet of buses, especially, Palle Vellugu inter-district buses that have been “the reason for TSRTC to incur losses,” the accident will go down its memory lane as the worst.
The statement gives scope to understand if it’s the failure of brakes, the unfamiliar ghat road that the recently-transferred driver took. Or was it the inappropriate speed breaker laid over a steep road that had fewer hazard signs with no road markers. There is a lot for the brigade of TSRTC officials who have left to the spot to investigate.
But, the preliminary investigation suggests that the driver, in a failed attempt, to negotiate a speed breaker, lost control over the wheel and fell into the gorge, while overturning multiple times. A look at the engineering of the road, suggests that it is a ‘J’ shaped curve which was steep and the speeding bus could not reclaim control and fell into the gorge.
“There is no way that the driver could have lost consciousness or could have lost his sight on the road by taking a nap,” said M Hanumant Rao, Jagtial depot managr, who was later suspended during the day. It is a downgradient road, and the speed breakers are there. We have to know if the brakes did not apply while approaching the breaker or the shakes that could have occurred after the speeding bus went over the speed breaker, eventually leading to the loss in the line of control,” said Jeevan Kumar, regional manager, Karimnagar.
All the engineering gaps would certainly be brought to the fore in the coming days but the big question that will remain is if the TSRTC maintaining the health of its buses, even if it was the reason for Telangana State Road Transport Corporation to make losses.
On several occasions, even during its expert committee meeting, the chairman of TSRTC Somavarapu Satyanarayana said: “the reason behind TSRTC incurring losses is due to its fleet of Palle Vellugu buses.” The same was said, time and again, leading to a conclusion that the buses had been poorly maintained.