Traffic ground to a near standstill in Malabar Hill, Napean Sea Road and other vital connectors to south Mumbai on Thursday after a speeding water tanker smashed into five stationary cars at midnight. While none were hurt in the incident as the cars were empty, the police could only completely clear the road less than 12 hours later.
Normal traffic resumed past noon on Thursday.
Eye witnesses to the incident said that the water tanker (MH 04 EB 3022) was speeding down Walkeshwar Road when it rammed into a row of cars a few metres ahead of Gopi Birla Memorial School in Malabar Hill at 12 am.
“The tanker first rammed into a Hyundai Accent car, which then hit the cars ahead of it – a BMW, a Chevrolet Cruze, a Honda City and a Hyundai Santro,” said a watchman at Kamal building located opposite the school.
While four cars belong to residents of Kamal Building and have suffered varying degrees of damage to their bonnets, the watchman said that the BMW belonged to a visitor at Triveni Building, which is in the neighbourhood the school.
“The driver of the tanker tried to reverse the vehicle and flee. But when the vehicle wouldn’t budge, he jumped out and ran away,” the watchman said.
The police said that the driver was located using the cell phone number painted on the tanker’s body. “We called the owner of the tanker and told him about the accident. We then traced the driver and arrested him,” said an officer at Malabar Hill police station.
The driver, Sujitkumar Shah, 22, was charged with rash and negligent driving and released on bail on Thursday morning.
After the accident, the traffic police faced a tough time extricating the mangled vehicles and clearing the road. “The damaged cars could not be removed quickly. We had called a hydraulic crane to lift them. But due to the narrow road, the crane was unable to manoeuvre easily. We also had to clear the road quickly owing to the movement of VIP vehicles for a programme at the state government’s Sahyadri Guest House on Thursday,” said Baburao Mukhedkar, senior inspector, Tardeo police station.
Three hydraulic cranes arrived after 9 am, following which the police was able to clear the stretch. “What led to traffic congestion was the fact that the accident occurred on the south-bound lane of the road,” said B K Upadhyaya, joint commissioner of police, traffic.
Movement of VIP vehicles to and from Sahyadri Guest House also complicated the operation.
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