A bus carrying 13 children from the Podar International School crashed into a tree at Powai, allegedly due to brake failure
THIRTEEN schoolchildren from Podar International School in Powai had a narrow escape when their bus skidded out of control and rammed into a tree. The incident occurred around 7 am when the school bus picked up students from Trikutta Towers at Gandhinagar, and was moving towards the gate of Suncity Complex. The bus, coming down from a slope, skidded and hit a tree.
Fortunately, the tree served as a barricade and saved the bus from falling on its left, on the grocery shops, which could have been fatal for the kids as well as people in the shops. Residents of a nearby society rushed to the aid of the children, who were visibly shaken, and called their parents.
Fire brigade officials had to cut the tree down after its trunk was wrecked in the collision
The principal of the CIE Board of the school, Suchita Malakar, also reached the spot and was seen pacifying the parents and children.
Residents also called the police and fire brigade to the spot. The fire brigade team removed the bus and decided to cut the tree down immediately, as its trunk was wrecked and could have posed a safety hazard during monsoon.
Narrow escape: The schoolchildren suffered from minor injuries on their chin, stomach and hands.
The driver of the bus, Sudhakar, blamed it on a technical fault. “The brakes failed, after the air pressure valve burst and I could not control the vehicle.” The bus contractor, Sharma, seemed apathetic to the entire incident, commenting, “Machinery hai, kharaab ho gayi.” (It was a simple case of machinery breakdown).
However, eyewitnesses alleged that Sudhakar was speeding and had turned off the engine on the slope to save fuel, which resulted in the mishap.
Joseph Francis, father of a Std I student, said, “I rushed to the spot after another parent informed me that the bus met with an accident. My child, who was sitting on the front seat, was hit by the steel rod in front of him on his chin. While the principal showed concern about our children’s safety, the bus contractor was indifferent to the entire episode.”
Another parent, on condition of anonymity, added, “We are worried about the indifferent attitude of bus authorities. We are planning to have a meeting with the principal and demand better safety measures in the bus to ensure such accidents don’t happen in the future. The school charges us an exorbitant amount for the bus facility and yet they fail to ensure proper safety arrangements.”
Parents also claimed that the bus does not meet the standard safety norms like having an experienced driver, safety belts for children, etc.
C S Mani, director of transport for Podar Education Network, refuted the allegations, “We have all the prescribed safety norms in place, like experienced drivers, CCTV cameras, fire extinguisher and medical kit inside the bus, along with a female attendant to look after the kids.”
Speaking about the incident, Mani said, “It was an unfortunate accident. The bus was brand new, purchased just 10 days ago. When the bus was on the slope, the driver was unable to apply brakes due to leakage in the air pressure valve.
Thanks to his presence of mind, he crashed the bus into the tree to stop it, rather than hitting another vehicle. He was not drunk and has more than five years of experience. In fact, he has been given bail and has resumed his duty, as the police did not find him guilty. The matter has been settled amicably.”
This reporter, who was also an eyewitness, recounted the accident, “I was waiting for my child’s school bus. Suddenly, I saw the bus crash against a huge tree on the road. The kids panicked and started to scream. We rushed to the spot to get the children out of the bus, and pacified them. They suffered from minor injuries on their chin, stomach and hands.
We called their parents and informed the school authorities.”