You may argue you travel in a luxury sedan, air-conditioned, chauffeur driven, tinted glass, with less to bother what goes on outside. How can you feel unsafe on the city roads?
True, you’re safe by say 75%, putting the figure arbitrarily. But suppose your car is hit by a bus whose brakes fail, or hit by another vehicle coming the wrong way at you.
Feel squeamish, as though how the hell can that happen? Well, the hell the answer is everything can happen on Kolkata roads.
Consider for example the case of those 20 who died, trapped in a private bus when it swayed off the road slipping on slush, careening on one side, and diving straight into a ditch full of filth (refer schematic below, courtesy TT).
Did they know even a minute before they met their fate as to what lay waiting for them? The answer would be ‘no’. Yet for all their hopes and aspirations that were never to be, these people no longer live among us.
I am not sure about other places in the state, but the moral degradation of average people in the city is so total that you feel scary. Barely 24 hours have passed since the VIP Road accident, but not many people seem to feel bothered about its enormity, about the irreparable loss of human lives.
In a superb display of managing the ‘crisis’, the government is painfully quiet. The ministers representing the biggest ruling party perhaps resent that this would happen even before they could settle after exercising their brain in the party congress in Coimbatore.
The common people on the road have very little choice. They have to travel in what today’s HT says are coffins on wheels. Why?
Look at the pictures below and consider these facts (courtesy HT, Apr 6). You’ll but agree that No One Is Safe On Kolkata Roads.
- Both gates are on one side.
- No other exit point is there.
- All windows have iron and steel bars running midway, so no one can climb out in case of an emergency.
- Glass pane at the rear is blocked by net guard and advertisement boards.
- Driver’s cabin has 2 doors, but none is accessible to passengers (incidentally the driver of the ill-fated bus jumped off and escaped relatively unhurt in Apr 4 accident though 20 passengers died).
That’s not all. There still are some more:
- Most buses are not checked regularly for snags.
- Drivers race for commission (you and I be damned).
- Tyres, specially the front ones, are resoled, and therefore have no proper grip.
For, as I said above, human lives do not matter much in today’s Kolkata. The apathy is too stark there for all to see. It is not worth a dime that you and I have the right to live a life of our own in a city that we call ours.