Crackdown on Kerala's speedsters after bus crash

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 7 (IANS) A day after the tragic bus accident in Malappuram district of Kerala claimed 13 lives, law enforcing authorities began Saturday to rein in speeding drivers.

Officials from the Motor Vehicles' Department were seen waiting on the sides of the roads and swooping down on speeding bus drivers. At least two dozen speeding vehicle owners have been served notices, and instructed to ensure that speed governors are installed.

Owners of private buses and their employees have threatened to launch a strike if this action continues.

Top MVD official P. Rajiv, however, announced that the checking of vehicles would go on uninterrupted, and action would be initiated against owners of vehicles found not complying with the laws.

A mini private bus carrying 42 passengers struck a tree and overturned Friday near Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district, leaving 13 dead and about 24 injured.

Incidentally, the state-owned transport corporation in Kerala has a mere 5,803 buses, while the private sector operates around 46,620 buses.

Private sector buses evoke anger in the average common person in Kerala, who uses the vehicles daily and also recoils from the recklessness with which many of them are driven. Given also the poor condition of roads in the state, a ride in these buses is not without its moments of panic.

"The only way out is to see that the law is strictly enforced, and it will be done," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.

Meanwhile, state Public Works Department Minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju told reporters here that there was no need to blame the condition of the roads: "If the condition (of roads) is bad, drivers should be that much more careful and cautious. There is no defence for reckless driving," he said.

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