A blast of hot air

At least 30 people have lost their lives, over 30 are injured and around 50 are still missing from Monday morning’s passenger bus accident at Bagasoti of Lalmatiya VDC-3 in Dang district. The bus bound for Pyuthan’s Damti from Krishnagar in Kapilvastu skidded off the road and plunged 150m down into the Rapti river. The ill-fated vehicle was reportedly carrying around 100 passengers, more than double its capacity. While the main cause of the accident remains a mystery, survivors report of the bus losing its balance after a cracking sound boomed out from somewhere near the suspension system supporting the wheels.

The Bhaluwang-Pyuthan road section is dotted with potholes, vehicles having to travel at crawling speeds. It is not hard to imagine something going wrong with an old, overcrowded bus with people perched precariously on the roof rails. Currently, there is no mechanism to keep aging public vehicles off the road. To make the matters worse, drivers are often drunk and traffic police more than happy to ignore overcrowded vehicles. The result: Loss of hundreds of lives each year. Even simple measures like not allowing passengers on roof and checking sobriety of drivers could prevent most accidents. These initiatives are not expensive and not much of a burden on the white cappers too. A whistle can be the difference between life and death.