Besides commuters, E-Way also risky place for IRB staffers

Following up with ‘part four’ of the E-Way campaign, triggered by the increasing number of fatal accidents that have claimed several lives in the recent past, MiD DAY had discovered that while people believe that only motorists end up as victims of road accidents on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, it is only the half truth.

Highway Victim: IRB guard Balu Shankar Bhanusagre (left), was left with a fractured leg after being hit by a speeding car while he was on duty. After a year’s hospitalisation he resumed work last month. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Apart from the motorists falling prey to accidents on the 94-km that connects the city to Mumbai, Ideal Road Builder (IRB) personnel such as marshals, security guards, among others, deployed on the highway to direct traffic in case of mishaps or technical glitches on the highway, also end up as victims of the E-Way.

Balu Shankar Bhanusagre, an IRB guard, was left with a fractured leg and back after being hit by a speeding car while he was on duty. After an entire year on the road to recovery, Bhanusagre resumed work last month.

He said that IRB personnel witness at least three accidents a day on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and some of them even end up as victims while executing their duties.

“A rod has been implanted in my leg and it took me almost a year to recover from my injuries. Around three or four guards are injured every month while performing their duties. Vehicles travel at speeds ranging between 120 and 140 kmph. We have to stand on the E-Way and guide vehicles if any lane is closed due to an accident or technical problem,” Bhanusagre said.

According to several IRB guards, tyre bursts while speeding, which results in loss of control over the vehicle by its drivers, is the prime reason for majority of the mishaps on the E-Way.

“During the night, when traffic is at its peak, vehicles don’t follow lane discipline. Vehicles colliding into the rear of vehicles ahead of them is common in the night,” said Krushna Bhanusagre, Balu’s brother, who is also an IRB guard.

According to the IRB officials villagers in the vicinity of the E-Way add to the problems by violating traffic rules. They said that there are seven authorised gaps in the medians for emergency movement of ambulances, maintenance staff and official vehicles.

“Apart from this, there are many illegal breaches created by villagers residing on the fringes of the Expressway. Despite the fact that there are several pedestrian crossings, and underpasses for safe movement, they do it to cross the road quickly. Once detected, we immediately repair these breaches, but new ones pop up every now and then. People should understand the need to refrain from making such breaches, as they can lead to mishaps,” said an IRB official. Another official said that most of these breaches are made by locals to facilitate easy movement of two-wheelers.

“There are several illegal breaches created by villagers and two-wheelers enter the E-Way and cross over to the other side. We don’t have the authority to take action. If we try to stop them, they respond with abuses.”

Continuous process
IRB officials claim that maintenance of highways is a constant and an ongoing process. All items of road infrastructure and safety provided on the Expressway are as per specifications laid down in the Indian Road Congress. The repair of concrete structures damaged in accidents takes a little time. In such cases, the locations are marked and other safety items are put up for the safety of commuters. 

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