Traffic officials and transport experts are worried that driving or riding on two-wheelers, auto rickshaws and even taxis will be riskier than usual this season, as their tyres aren’t changed as often as they should be, making them susceptible to accidents on slippery rain-drenched roads.
And the condition of the roads yet to be prepped for monsoon by the BMC – doesn’t seem to be helping. On Sunday night, the roads witnessed several freak accidents, with light vehicles like two-wheelers, auto rickshaws and mini-vans skidding and colliding with dividers, throwing motorists off-balance in some cases.
Sources in the traffic police department said that after the season’s first drizzle between 8.45 pm and 9 pm, several vehicles began skidding on the Western Express Highway (WEH). Auto drivers were seen struggling to control their vehicles. “Auto rickshaw and taxi drivers don’t change tyres often enough or take their vehicles for servicing before the start of monsoon. This often causes vehicles to skid on the roads,” said A Shenoy, a transport expert.
Members from the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) said that they are planning to start a mechanism for automatic inspection of vehicles soon. “Many immature drivers don’t maintain their vehicles properly. Most of the tyres found on auto rickshaws and taxis are old – they skid easily in the first rains,” said Nitin Dossa of WIAA.
Mumbai Taximen’s Union leader AL Quadros said, “Taxi drivers wait for the last moment to change tyres just before monsoon.” A traffic official pleaded, “We want motorists to realise that they shouldn’t speed during the first showers, as the oil and debris lying on the streets make them slippery.” “Earlier, auto drivers used to remould their tyres, but nowadays they change them. Oil, grease and dust on the roads make the vehicles skid,” said Shashank Rao, member of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union.
Meanwhile, the early showers have thrown BMC’s late pre-monsoon roadwork out of gear. While civic authorities had claimed that all the departments would complete pre-monsoon work by June 7, the disruptions caused by the early showers have forced them to take a reality check. The city is far from ready to face the battering of the rains, as desilting and other works are yet to be completed.
What’s more, silt dredged up from drains hasn’t been disposed of appropriately, causing it to flow back into the nullahs with rainwater. D R Dixit, chief engineer of the roads department, said, “The pothole repair work will start now, as the first showers have arrived. The pre-monsoon work will continue till June 7, whenever there is no rain.”
(Inputs from Chetna Yerunkar)