After 13 deaths, Bandra's fatal U-bridge to be walled for safety
MSRDC's earlier measures do not seem to be working any more, with three fatalties report since the start of this year
The U-bridge that connects Bandra East to West has been claiming more than three to four lives every year since 2015. As per the traffic department's statistics — accessed by mid-day — in four years, 14 lives have been lost on the stretch, while another 25 have been critically injured at this deadly turn. This year alone, three people died on the same spot. Fortunately, there were no casualties on the stretch in 2018, but from 2015 to 2017, 11 people were killed on the deadly bridge.
The Bandra Police claimed that they have written several letters to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and tried to draw their attention towards the rising casualties, but they've received no response. The only time MSRDC took a few steps to rectify the problem was in 2016. But nothing much has been done since, even as deadly incidents continue to rise on the bridge.
Wrote to MSRDC
As per the traffic department, this year, three people have lost their lives on the bridge. In 2016, after four deaths were reported on the bridge, then senior PI of Bandra police station, Pandit Thackeray, inspected the bridge and then wrote to MSRDC, asking them to take necessary steps to prevent such fatal accidents.
Thackeray, who is now senior PI of MHB police station, told mid-day, "During my tenure, several incidents were reported on the bridge, most of them were of bikers dying after riding roughly or doing stunts on the bridge. They fell off the bridge and died on the spot. I visited the bridge several times and wrote to MSRDC as well. They made changes such as putting reflectors, street lights, CCTV at the entrance of the bridge, as well as tyres near the turning, but the wall was not extended. However, following a few of the changes, the number of accidents has gone down."
Several mishaps on the U-bridge have been caused by errant bike riders. It has become a hotspot for bikers late in the night as it connects to Bandra Reclamation. Most of the time, these bikers meet with an accident while attempting deadly stunts on the U-bridge or on the Reclamation road.
The current senior PI of Bandra police station, Girish Vishnu Anavkar said, "These incidents are happening because of bikers coming from different areas of Mumbai. We have been taking extensive action against these bikers who have been doing stunts on the bridge. Apart from this, we are also coordinating with MSRDC to take preventive measures to stop such fatal accidents. Several steps are being taken by them and some are under process."
Following the two incidents this year which claimed three lives, the Bandra traffic division PI Nitin Patil also took serious note of the issue and is trying to ensure the boundary wall gets extended. He told mid-day, "I am coordinating with MSRDC officials to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent such fatalities. Apart from this, we are taking extensive action on bikers riding near and on the bridge."
State Cabinet minister and Bandra MLA Ashish Shelar has also written to MSRDC about the issue. He told mid-day, "Letters have been sent to MSRDC. We will ensure that the wall extension work gets sanctioned soon."
Speaking about what MSRDC has done to make the bridge safer, chief engineer of MSRDC, Shankar Dhote said, "We have taken several precautionary measures, such as putting speed breakers on the bridge and installing precautionary signboards. Some others are under process and will be completed in the due course of time. I am not aware of letters from the police or for how long they've been writing to us. I've taken charge only a few days ago, so I won't be able to comment on that."
Shahid Khan and Arbaz Shaikh
'Authorities, please take necessary steps'
The most recent fatal accident on the bridge occurred in the wee hours of June 9, when Malwani resident Shahid Khan, who was riding a bike, died after falling from the bridge when his vehicle was hit by a car. His pillion rider, Arbaz Shaikh, was critically injured, but he survived the mishap as he didn't fall off the bridge. The Bandra police arrested the driver of the car that hit Khan's bike after he took a right turn while following bikers coming from the wrong side of the road. Shahid's father Samiullah Khan told mid-day, "I have lost my son; I cannot describe the pain that I am going through. The police should always take strict action against bikers violating the rules, driving rashly, doing stunts on highways or especially in areas like Bandra. My son lost his life after falling from the bridge and I've heard that many people have died because of the same reason at the U-bridge. I would request the authorities concerned to please take necessary steps to prevent such incidents, so we can at least save somebody's life. I have lost my son. I don't want anyone else to go through the same pain."
Aman Sheikh, Junaid Rai and Kamrunissa Shaikh. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
'Save the lives of others'
Prior to Shahid Khan's death, three teenagers, who were taking a triple seat ride, died after their bike skidded upon reaching the sharp curve of the bridge. The incident occurred on May 21; the impact was such that the bike hit the tyres installed on the edge of the bridge, throwing the trio off it. Two of the pillion riders, Aman Sheikh and Hiran Khan died on the spot, while Junaid Rai, who was riding the bike, continues to battle for life. Junaid has been booked by the Bandra police under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Motor Vehicles Act. Aman's mother Kamrunnisa Sheikh told mid-day, "That day, his friends took him for an early morning bike ride. Later, we got to know that he died after falling off the bridge. I know my son will never come back, I don't want to blame anyone for this because he died due to his own negligence, but police should arrest the one who was riding the bike. As a mother, I request this government to take some necessary steps and save the lives of others so mothers don't have to cry like this." Hiran hailed from UP and was working here with a vegetable vendor. His friend Gulam Sheikh said, "He was all alone here. Most of the time, he used to be at the shop."
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