After Friday’s mishap at Sinhagad fort, a technical team from Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) visited the ghat stretch and identified reasons for the accident.
While the forest department plans to carry out course correction at accident-prone spots (narrow stretch in ghat section), the PMPML has also planned to offer advance training to its drivers ferrying tourists in e-buses.
Within a fortnight of its opening, the Sinhagad e-bus service has already reported two mishaps with the recent on Friday, wherein 28 passengers had a narrow escape after an electric bus hit the railing at the ghat section. While no one was injured, the railing was damaged.
Deputy conservator of forests Rahul Patil said, “it is an ongoing process and that the authorities are working on the betterment of roads to prevent accidents.”
According to PMPML drivers, there are a few sharp curves where driving buses become difficult. “There is a turn at the end of the route while reaching the fort which is reason for all the mishaps. The narrow turn is adjacent to a big wall,” said Satyawan Kadam, PMPML e-bus driver.
The PMPML launched the e-bus service on May 1. All private vehicles are now banned in the ghat section, and can be parked at the available space in Donaje village.
“We have started providing training to all the drivers. We teach them how to drive (in ghat section), and overall procedure,” said Sunil Burse, chief engineer, PMPML.
The PMPML officials also plan to prepare a report and send it to the organising committee. “All the new infrastructural changes are being made regularly. Better roads, parings and bus stops will be made available soon. Other concerns will also be addressed. “I have observed that the narrow road in one hairpin bend can be blamed for the mishaps. I will include that in the report to the concerned department and advise changes,” added Burse
The popular tourist spot receives massive footfall every weekend. This has added more burden to the e-bus service. “Due to overfilling of the e-buses, the load increases, making it difficult to take the bus at sharp turns. So, we are planning to increase the frequencies in next 15 days,” said Satish Ghate, media spokesperson, PMPML.
After to two accidents, Vijay Kumar, an official of Olectra Manufacturers, whose buses are plying at the fort, also visited the stretch with the PMPML team. Kumar said, “The roads were developed many years ago. We need to be patient for functioning to be smooth and that will happen soon. The e-buses are completely efficient for the slopes.”
District collector Rajesh Deshmukh was unavailable to comment. Currently. there are 24 buses in active duty along with two chargers for the buses.
The passengers have pointed out lack of proper medical facilities, bus stops with no shades which is troublesome during summer. Snehal Gaikwad, a resident of Pune who had come with her family to experience the e-services said, “We had to stand in the scorching heat for hours. The private vehicles were better for us. This is very expensive and facilities provided are very meagre.”