Kochi residents demand action after fatal bus crash at Madavana junction

The residents said traffic violations and accidents are common in the area.
Residents and passers-by near the bike of deceased Jijo Sebastian, 33
Residents and passers-by near the bike of deceased Jijo Sebastian, 33 Photo | A Sanesh

KOCHI: Around 10am, autorickshaw driver Surendran was conversing with his friends at the autorickshaw stand at Madavana junction on NH 66, near Panangad. It was drizzling, and there weren’t many vehicles on the highway as it was a Sunday.

Residents and passers-by near the bike of deceased Jijo Sebastian, 33
One dead, thirteen injured as private bus overturns on rain-slicked Kochi highway

But things changed suddenly. A loud sound followed, and before he could realise what was happening, Surendran saw seats and curtains of an interstate bus lying on the road. Shards of glass lay scattered. The mangled remains of the traffic signal post fell with a thud. The accident left a motorcycle crushed. People were trying to rescue the passengers on the bus.

“I saw both the bus and the bike arriving. When the signal turned red, the driver applied the brake and the bus overturned onto the young man waiting on his two-wheeler. Once the bus overturned, we rushed to help the passengers. The youth was trapped under the bus. We couldn’t save him,” Surendran said.

Basheer, another eyewitness, said that the bus was speeding and the accident occurred when the driver braked all of a sudden.

“The bus hit the signal post after the front tyre of the bus climbed on to the median. Within a few seconds, it overturned. Though the bike rider was wearing a helmet, we couldn’t save his life,” he said.

Residents and passers-by near the bike of deceased Jijo Sebastian, 33
Kerala bus crash: Ride to pick up wife and daughter turns fatal for 32-year-old Jijo in Kochi

The passengers on the bus were grateful that they managed to escape.

“We heard the sound of the bus colliding with something on the road. But never imagined the bus would turn turtle. When I opened my eyes, I saw a woman with injuries on her palms and an uncle bleeding in his legs,” said Shivshankar, a Thiruvananthapuram native working in Bengaluru.

The passengers were taken to a hospital nearby, he added.

The intervention of the police and the fire and rescue services within a few minutes helped manage the situation -- both in terms of saving lives and avoiding traffic congestion. “The fire force arranged a crane to lift the bus. We tried to help the bike rider as well. It was a narrow escape for the passengers on the bus. Sadly, we lost an innocent life to the accident,” Basheer added.

Traffic violations, accidents common in Madavana: Residents

Following the bus accident, the residents of Madavana — part of Kumbalam panchayat on the outskirts of Kochi — have came out against the state government and the NHAI for negligence in ensuring road safety. The residents said traffic violations and accidents are common in the area. “Such incidents are not unusual in this place. This is a national highway. However, many people — mostly those who travel from distant places — don’t obey traffic rules and take wrong turns, leading to accidents almost every day,” said Santhosh, a Madavana resident. The police take statements from eyewitnesses and close cases without addressing the traffic-related issues, he said.

The residents alleged the road is not managed properly. “We have complained to many authorities but the problem stays unaddressed,” said Shaji, an autorickshaw driver.

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