A 1.75-ton iron structure carrying a signboard fell on an Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus after the driver of the vehicle rammed an iron pillar supporting the signboard. As many as 12 persons, including the driver and the conductor of the bus, sustained minor injuries, and two other vehicles were damaged. The accident that happened around 10.40 a.m. caused a traffic jam on the arterial stretch for hours.
The bus on route 18 K, driven by Elumalai, was on its way to Broadway. As the bus neared Spencer Plaza, the driver failed to notice the iron pillar that stood between the service road and Anna Salai. As a result, the left side of the bus crashed into the heavy arch that carried the signage. The iron structure with the signboard slowly came crashing down and landed on the front portion of the bus. At the same time, the iron arch on the other side fell on a mini-truck and a biker was thrown off his vehicle.
Adhi, 26, of Royapettah who drove the mini-van, said: “We had a narrow escape as the iron pillar landed on the rear of our vehicle. If it had fallen on the driver’s cabin, it would have crushed the three of us. Passersby and other onlookers rescued us from the vehicle.”
A total of 12 passengers — eight men and four women — from the bus were taken to the Government Royapettah Hospital. “Some of the passengers had abrasions and lacerations. A few required sutures and some were also referred for dental treatment,” a senior hospital official said. All of them were treated as outpatients, he added.
P. Yesumani, sub-inspector attached with the traffic police, who came to the spot, said though the accident happened during the peak hour, it luckily did not cause a great deal of damage to life or property. “Immediately after receiving the information, we rushed to the spot and removed the damaged vehicles. I think this was the second accident involving an MTC bus at the same spot this month.”
The process of removing the iron rod disrupted traffic.
Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic, K. Periaiah and other officials visited the spot and coordinated efforts to ensure resumption of traffic. G.K.Mathivanan, a taxi driver, said, “My vehicle hit the same pillar on a couple of occasions due to poor visibility. The pillar emerges abruptly in between the service road and the main road. During night, many accidents have occurred at this very spot since the pillar is not visible.”
Meanwhile, sources in the Highways Department said that the gantry girder was strong and had stood firm even during Cyclone Vardah. But the traffic signal at the same junction had been damaged during that cyclone, an official said.
The gantry girder was at least 15 years old but there was no doubt about its ability to carry the weight of the signboard. “It fell due to the impact of the bus ramming it. From the way the passengers fell forward, it is clear that the bus was coming at a great speed,” the official explained.
The gantry girder and the signboard had been installed by a private company to use the space for advertisements. But since they had not obtained permission, the advertisements were removed. The post remained. The Highways Department has some 15 such boards on its roads.