What caused the Kallada Bus Accident in Kochi’s Madavana Junction?

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The recent Kallada bus accident at Madavana Junction highlights ongoing concerns from residents about frequent accidents in the area due to poor road design and management. Following the accident, there have been renewed calls for immediate improvements to enhance safety on this hazardous Edappally-Aroor National Highway 66 Bypass stretch.

What caused the Kallada Bus Accident in Kochi's Madavana Junction?
Screenshot: Kallada Bus Accident at the Panangad traffic signal.

Kochi, June 23: A bus accident in Kerala’s Kochi claimed the life of a motorcyclist and left more than 15 passengers injured. According to eyewitnesses, the Kallada G4 sleeper bus, traveling from Bengaluru to Varkala rammed into the Panangad traffic signal post before overturning onto a waiting motorcyclist.

The bus on its way from Bengaluru to Varkala had 42 passengers on board, many of whom suffered injuries.

The bus accident at the Madhavana Junction resulted in the death of Jijo Sebastian, a 33-year-old motorcyclist from Wagamon, who was trapped beneath the overturned bus.

Despite being rushed to a nearby private super-specialty hospital, he could not be saved. According to local media reports, Jijo Sebastian, aged 32, was waiting on his motorcycle at the Panangad traffic signal to pick up his wife and 15-month-old daughter when the tragedy struck.

Additionally, 13 of the 42 passengers on the bus sustained injuries.

Also Read: VRL Bus Accident in Yadgir Kills 2 And Injures 7

Cause of The Kallada Bus Accident at Madavana Junction

According to Sreejith, an auto driver and eyewitness to the Kallada bus accident, the traffic signal turned red as the bus reached the Madavana junction on NH 66, near Panangad.

The driver attempted to brake at the last minute. Still, the bus skidded on the rain-slicked road, crashing into a traffic signal post before overturning onto Jijo Sebastian, who was waiting on his motorcycle.

“The bus tried to cross the signal before the light turned red. However, it couldn’t and the driver applied brakes at the last minute causing it to skid and collide with the signal post,” he says.

The local police are investigating if the bus has been overspeeding and was trying to evade the signal.

Based on the initial findings, MVD officials suspected that the Kallada Travels bus crashed solely because of overspeeding. According to them, the bus collided with the traffic signal and overturned because it skidded on the slippery road when the driver suddenly applied the brakes upon noticing the red signal.

Upon inspecting the bus, officials discovered that its rear tires were significantly worn out.

The Madavana Junction on the Edappally-Aroor National Highway 66 Bypass is notorious for its frequent accidents. The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) and traffic police have labeled the busy junction on the six-lane stretch as highly accident-prone, urging the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to redesign it.

They emphasized the need to improve the entry points from service roads and byroads into the NH, as well as to enhance road grip in the area, as vehicles often skid when braking due to the bituminous coating.

After a thorough investigation, MVD officials have revealed that while the lack of CCTV and vehicle tracking system hampered the investigation, new findings have come to light.

The bus, a 2016 model, was registered in Nagaland, where CCTV and vehicle tracking systems are not mandatory. The junction’s CCTV was also non-functional.

The MVD confirmed that the air brake system was working. However, the rear left tires lacked adequate tread. They have also emphasized that the bus might not have been overspeeding.

According to their investigation, the accident occurred when the bus tried to change lanes abruptly to avoid a car on the road. It lost control and hit a traffic signal pole, causing it to overturn. The slippery road surface combined with possible driver fatigue, contributed to the crash.

However, the RTO and Joint RTO inspection revealed several violations, including the following:

  • The bus had illegally fixed six extra seats.
  • Blue halogen lights were installed.
  • The speed governor was found inoperative.
  • There was no functional emergency exit door.

Notably, the Kallada Travels bus was reportedly operating three hours behind schedule owing to all-India permit buses from Kerala avoiding Tamil Nadu, for fear of being detained due to the ongoing tax-related issues.

Also Read: MR Travels Bus Accident in Rajgarh Kills 3 and Leaves 20 Injured

Locals and Autorickshaw Drivers Break Windshield to Rescue the Injured

After the bus overturned, passengers were trapped inside the bus. Locals, along with autorickshaw drivers, had to break the windshield of the bus to rescue them.

Of the 13 individuals admitted to VPS Lakeshore Hospital, eight were discharged by Sunday evening.

Hospital sources reported that bus driver Palpandy, 42, from Thenkasi; Lisa, 42, from Kollam; Anandu, 27; Chandran Pilla, 60; his wife Sobha, 52 (all from Alappuzha); Sudhamani, 56, from Pathanamthitta; Elliyas, 39; Chandran’s daughter Athira, 26 (both from Alappuzha); Anjaly, 44; Aswin, 18; Ankhitha, 15 (all from Kollam); Arya, 24, from Kannur; and Ravikumar Shaw, 34, were discharged.

Two individuals sustained spinal injuries, and two had fractures, but none are in critical condition.

Also Read: KSRTC Bus Accident Decline Following Alcohol Testing Initiative

Madavana Junction: A ‘Death Trap’ on Edappally-Aroor NH 66 Bypass

Locals regard the Madavana Junction on the Edappally-Aroor National Highway 66 Bypass as a ‘death trap’. According to local autorickshaw drivers and shopkeepers, the stretch witnesses three accidents daily, ranging from minor to major incidents.

They identified four main causes for these frequent accidents:

  • Uneven surfaces on the highway carriageway
  • Lack of pedestrian and stop lines
  • Poorly timed traffic signals
  • Absence of timer display boards
  • Motorists either speeding through red lights or braking abruptly at the last second.

“One of the main causes of accidents in this spot is the uneven surface of the National Highway (NH), which destabilizes speeding vehicles. It becomes even more risky during the rain, and this could have triggered Sunday’s bus accident,” says Srijeeth, a shopkeeper who has witnessed several incidents on this spot.

He further added that the timer display boards indicating waiting times in each direction have been dysfunctional for many months. This contributes to motorists having little awareness of when the signals will change, adding to the confusion and risk at the junction.

Expressing concern over the frequent accidents, another shopkeeper, Joseph emphasized the need for enforcing speed limits on the Vyttila-Aroor stretch of NH Bypass. He highlighted that sudden braking due to high speeds has been a leading cause of accidents along the corridor.

The recent Kallada bus accident at Madavana Junction highlighted ongoing concerns from residents about frequent accidents in the area due to poor road design and management.

The NHAI has long been criticized for neglecting basic road markings and failing to install rumble strips to alert motorists about upcoming signal junctions.

Following the accident, there have been renewed calls for immediate improvements to enhance safety on this hazardous Edappally-Aroor National Highway 66 Bypass stretch.

Change in Route

According to the Indian Express, passengers reported that the bus diverted from its original route through Tamil Nadu at the last minute to avoid inspections, opting for the Mysuru-Kozhikode route instead.

The bus, registered in Nagaland where taxes are lower, was part of a trend noted by a police officer. He mentioned that several interstate buses registered in low-tax states have been changing their routes since Tamil Nadu started strictly enforcing permit regulations and halting interstate buses traveling through the state.

Please note: Kallada Tours and Travels and Kallada Travels are two different companies. The bus involved in the accident is operated by Kallada Travels, also known as Kallada G4.

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