AFTER three accidents in barely 24 hours on Nagar BRTS route, civic activists Sunday slammed the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), PMPML and the traffic police, accusing them of doing little to make the route safe for the travelling public. Two accidents occurred Saturday and the third one happened on Sunday morning.
“Despite our repeated warnings to all authorities that numerous safety measures were lacking and not in place, PMC and PMPML rolled out this public transport system. Every single day, there have been accidents that have been reported or have gone unreported. Today’s instance is of three known accidents in just 24 hours,” said Qaneez Sukhrani of Convenors Association of Nagar Road Citizens Forums.
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Criticising the traffic police, Sukhrani said as a law enforcement agency, it “always disowns responsibility and is never around to put down strict rules in place or take action if lack of any traffic or transport system is going to end in fatal results”. “They look the other way by only plodding to do crisis management and never preemptive planning.”
Pointing out the deficiencies, Sukhrani said a portion at 9 BRD gate is still protruding onto Nagar Road since last year although PMC has completed the administrative building. “No footpath and side-margin of road is encroachment free. Existing footpaths are illegally occupied by hawkers, vendors, garages, shops, encroachments and they have to be re-located without further delay. Pedestrians and therefore commuters who will travel on the BRTS must have free right of way to walk unhindered,” she said.
Sukhrani said it was imperative that closing of unnecessary gaps/intersections which are kept open on demands from elected representatives should be done with immediate effect. “Two mishaps in past 24 hours happened at T-junctions which have been kept opened at the instance of local politicians,” she alleged.
Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrian First said, “Nagar road BRT corridor is very unsafe with high probability of many more accidents with possibility of fatalities. We and others have been pointing out several deficiencies which should have been attended to by the PMC prior to commissioning. The BRT lanes and bus stations were erected years ago and are lying idle for want of a terminal station.”
The civic body, Inamdar said, failed to make use of this enormous time period to complete the basic essential work on the corridor such as road junction modifications for smooth conflict-free passage of BRT and non-BRT traffic, proper design for merging-demerging of BRT buses at beginning and end of mixed traffic zones, safe at grade pedestrian crossings at junctions, bus stations and other intermediate locations as per need including zebra markings, pedestrian refuges, signage, pedestrian signal.
Inamdar said other steps like traffic calming measures on corridor, especially prior to pedestrian crossings and at BRT bus merging demerging points; prominent large size signage and road markings at each entry point to BRT lane to caution other vehicle drivers about ‘No entry’ to BRT lane; proper BRT priority traffic signal system with invertor backup at all junctions, adequate illumination for entire corridor, refurbishing and reinstatement of bus stations should be undertaken on priority. Driver training, Inamdar said, for safe driving in BRT lane, proper bus docking at bus stations and other necessary precautions for commuter safety and putting in place an effective enforcement system with zero tolerance on the BRT corridor was mandatory. Inamdar said neither PMC nor PMPML have shown any serious interest. “Their focus has only been on starting a bus service in the BRT lanes somehow or the other and declaring the BRTS as commissioned. Despite serious deficiencies, they have already claimed success for the so-called BRTS with the only benchmark being the number of commuters using the BRT,” he said.
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‘PMPML not at fault’
Mayura Shendekar, who heads PMPML’s BRTS cell, said in the three accidents since yesterday, one pedestrian was killed. Shindekar, however, said the deficiencies on the route that activists are pointing out have been taken care of by the PMPML. “From our side, we have taken care of the deficiences. But other things like encroachments on footpaths, opening of Ramwadi subway and other things relate to Pune Municipal Corporation,” she said.