By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, February 9: Passenger-carrying vehicles in Assam are allowed to do things which are clearly beyond the pale in so far as rules of the roads are concerned. The police personnel and vehicle drivers, as often as not, connive to stretch rules that are set for passenger-carrying vehicles to obey. This is a symbiotic relationship between the men in khaki and vehicle drivers to get some extra bucks for both of the parties involved to share. The outcome is – numerous accidents taking place everywhere in the state, leading to loss of lives.
At least 12 persons died on the spot and three others were seriously injured when the vehicle they were travelling in collided with a truck that was carrying iron rods in the Lotabari area on NH-37 in Golaghat district on Sunday morning. The accident occurred when a Dergaon-boubd Winger carrying at least 19 passengers hit a Tinsukia-bound truck.
Police personnel and vehicle drivers reach an understanding under which the vehicles are allowed to carry more passengers than their respective carrying capacities. The police, by stretching the standing rules, get a share of the extra buck that comes in the process. This practice, more often than not, proves dearly when fatal accidents occur.
According to the State Strasport Department rules, a city bus should carry not more than 31 passengers, a deluxe for tourists should carry not more than 37 and a 709 should not carry more than 32. These apart, there are a large number of small vehicles that ply between Guwahati and gaon, Guwahati and Morigaon, Guwahati and Barpeta, Guwahati and lbari, Guwahati and Chhaygaon, lbari and Barpeta etc. The passenger carrying capacities of such vehicles are eight for Magic, ten for Tata Sumo, ten for Cruiser, 14 for Winger etc. In blatant violation of the rules, a winger carries at least 18 passengers. The ill-fated winger that met an accident at Lotabari area on NH-37 in Golaghat district on Sunday morning was reportedly carrying 19 passengers. Such malpractices lead to accidents.
Guwahati and Sopur at its outskirts, the Hajo-lbari Road etc., are some of the accident prone roads.
What is surprising is that the men in khaki charge fines from two-sheelers when they are found to carry three persons, and from pillion riders also when the practice is prohibited. However, when it comes to the case of passenger carrying vehicles, they are, as often as not, caught on the wrong foot for laxity.
Enfocement Department officials also look the other way when passenger-carrying vehicles are found plying overloaded.