News on road accidents is a common feature in almost all daily newspapers and there are very few days in a year, where newspaper do not carry any news on accidents. However, the fact that nearly 15-20% of the road accidents involves jeeps, needs to be highlighted, especially from the view of inadequate road transport services from the State Transport.
With the concern for increasing number of road accidents involving jeeps as public transport vehicles, the Jaipur based consumer organisation Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) conducted a study on jeep accidents. CUTS has also filed a petition to the State Human Rights Commission from the grounds that jeeps are not a safe mode of public transport and the life of the jeep passengers is always at risk.
The shuttle-jeeps as public transport vehicles have become a nuisance not only in Rajasthan but also around the country. The CUTS petition was filed on the 1st of September 2001 before the Human Rights Commission. Since then, during the month of September itself, five more jeep accidents have been reported in the select newspapers, many such might not have been reported.
Jeeps Kills a Police Constable
An over crowded public transport jeep killed a Police Constable, on an attempt to stop it for Challan (immediate legal action). He was on his duty to support the traffic police squad to catch hold of overcrowded and illegal jeeps. (Dainik Bhaskar and Rajasthan Patrika 07.09.01)
This incidence should sensitise the administration towards the unsafe jeeps and that these jeeps are ‘Killer Vehicles’ and should be immediately banned.
A sample survey of news items in two select Hindi dailies of Rajasthan was made related to jeep accidents in the months of June – August. Data related to jeep accidents (casualties and injured), was collected from the accidents thana (Police station), Jaipur city and Bagru (nearby town). The same was analysed in proportion to the population of the state.
The resultant picture of the news items survey reported over nine jeep accidents resulting in 50 deaths and 46 grievous injuries. According to these news reports, the casualties and injuries on an average are 6 and 5 respectively per accident. Similar is the ratio of casualties and injuries in such accidents, which represents that the number of casualties (loss of human lives) are more than the number of people who were injured.
In the past ten years, the number of registered vehicles, road accidents vis-a-vis the casualties and injuries to people have created a history in the State, with 1999 recording an abnormally large number of accidents. An overview of the accidents in numbers, during the last 10 years is as below:
Year 1991 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 2000
Graph: Number of road accidents and casualties during the year 1991- 2000
The percentage rise in the period of 5 years and 10 years i.e. in the year 1995 and 2000 respectively, in comparison to the figures of 1991, has been as given under: –
|Year||Registered vehicles (%)||Accidents (%)||Casualties (%)||Injuries (%)|
While there has been an 8% increase in accidents per year, the number of casualties and injuries have been increasing at the rate of 5% and 11% respectively.
The above data gives an idea that the road accidents involving jeeps in Jaipur City are around 200 per year, the Casualties and Injuries ratio being 1:9 in these accidents. The percentage of number of casualties and injuries to number of accidents involving jeeps (in Jaipur City) is also around 10 percent and 90 percent respectively.
On an average, every year 565 persons meet with casualties (loss of human lives) while 5082 people get injured from road accidents involving jeeps, in the State, on the basis of the population figures of the year 2000.
The above figures may not represent the state scenario, but an inference drawn from the same indicate that accidents involving jeeps are responsible for about 25 percent of the total number of road accidents and around 10 percent of the total casualties per year in the state. Similarly, 20 percent of people injured in road accidents are injured due to jeep accidents every year, in the State.
The non-availability of adequate number of Roadways buses, especially to cater the passengers for short distances coming from nearby villages/towns and suburbs, and the increased fare of buses has resulted in intensive use of jeeps as public transport vehicle.
Further, the non-availability of adequate public transport vehicles also results in their overcrowding. In order to make the plying of jeeps a more lucrative business, most jeep owners appoint unemployed youth as drivers, who have very little driving experience, no license and many cases, not even eligible for a driving licence at very low wages. To make the jeeps accommodate more passengers, jeep owners tend to make some modifications in their vehicles, which may not have any said technical specifications.
Jeeps as public transport vehicles are more often than not used by the rural poor, many of them being bread earners or future bread earners – students and employees. In most of the casualties, families have come to roads.
The post accident scenario is also something which, need immediate and urgent action and attention. After the accident takes place, there are no facilities available for quick evacuation of the victims of mishap, giving them first aid and medical relief on the spot of incident. Many times, the nearby villagers get immediately gathered at the spot of accident but they are helpless having no means of transport or communication leading to undue delays in providing a the succors rescue and relief. Due to non-availability of mobile vans/ ambulances on the spot of accident, the chances of survival of badly injured victims get reduced after every fraction of second.
There is no doubt rules and regulations enacted by the state governments to prevent some of the above mentioned deeds, and many a time as a knee jerk reaction to these accidents, the Government sometimes takes action against overloaded jeep drivers and owners. For instance, just after the tragic jeep accident near Rashidpur (Dausa) on Alwar-Karauli Highway on 01.08.2001, Sh. R.K.Meena, Transport Commissioner, Govt. of Rajasthan, ordered to cease the registration of overloaded jeeps for four months, legal action against jeep owners and cancellation of driving license of jeep drivers in the event of an accident
All this is in complete government knowledge and despite this, it is a pity that government is considering private jeeps as an alternative to public transport vehicles in rural areas. This was discussed at the recently organised meeting of subcommittee of ministers, under the chairmanship of home minister Gulab Singh Shaktawat. However, the final decision is yet to be taken.
There is no doubt rules and regulations enacted by the state governments to prevent some of the above mentioned deeds, and many a time as a knee jerk reaction to these accidents, the Government sometimes takes action against overloaded jeep drivers and owners. For instance, just after the tragic jeep accident near Rashidpur (Dausa) on Alwar-Karauli Highway on 01.08.2001, Sh. R.K.Meena, Transport Commissioner, Govt. of Rajasthan, ordered to cease the registration of overloaded jeeps for four months, legal action against jeep owners and cancellation of driving license of jeep drivers in the event of an accident.
Sensitive to the rising incidents of jeep accidents, CUTS had sent a letter to Sh. Chogaram Bakolia, the Minister of Transport way back in September 2000, requesting him to impose ban and take action against use of jeeps as a public transport vehicle on the National Highways. But, no action in this connection appears to have been taken by the State Government as yet. On its contrary, there has been continuous increase in the number of jeep accidents operating as public transport vehicles on the Highways and resultant increase in the number of casualties too, as is evident from the data given above.