A 'testing' ride to the exam centre

Students on their way to appear for the SSC and Intermediate board examinations in several parts of the State have to face too many challenges: two of the most important being preparation and reaching the test centre in time.

Quite unfortunate, but most of the students somehow manage to conquer the first challenge of painstaking preparation, while the second one is proving to be arduous risk-taking task. In the two Godavari districts alone, one student was killed and about 17 were injured in road accidents during this examination season, as they had no choice but to catch rickety unsafe autorickshaws.

Apart from unavoidable dependency on autorickshaws, bad engineering of roads seem to adding to such accidents in East and West Godavari districts. Parents from rural areas, who could not afford to drop their children at the examination centre on time, leave the choice to the students, and most of them opt for share autos which are available at their doorstep.

Auto drivers have to be blamed for almost all the accidents as they apparently lose control of vehicle while overspeeding. In two such accidents reported from East Godavari, auto drivers allegedly drove recklessly. Neither did they have licence nor enough experience to drive the autos. One such driver who was taking nine SSC students from nearby village of Peddapuram in East Godavari hit a roadside tree when he tried to avoid a speeding lorry in opposite direction. The police and RTO officials’ inquiry has reportedly revealed that the driver, whose age was just 17, hired the three-wheeler from someone and was running it on a daily rent.

In another incident that took place at Mallepalli , the driver who was not having proper license allegedly drove it at high speed and overturned.

Took exams

District Education Officer of East Godavari Abraham said they engaged and allowed scribes for students who were injured in different accidents in the district during the SSC examination. He said that on the request of the Education Department, the RTC operated special buses during the examinations and even allowed SSC students to travel free in buses to the examination centre. But such buses were not many.

Ramarao, parent of Lakshmi, a student of Uppalapadu ZP High School who was injured in the Mallepalli accident, said that RTC did not run special buses and that all the seven girls who travelled on the day of accident had no other choice but to opt for an auto. He said that parents of all the students were poor and took the auto as the auto driver charged only ₹5 per head for dropping them at the examination centre.

Special buses

Ch. Ravi Kumar, Regional Manager of APSRTC, East Godavari, said that though they could not run special buses exclusively for SSC or Intermediate students, they operated their services during the exam timings on specific routes on the request of the DEO. He said that shortage of buses was the reason for not operating special buses.

In Godavari districts, autos ply unauthorisedly on National Highways, though service roads were laid all along the NH-16. This is leading to most of the accidents with autorickshaws colliding with heavy vehicles.

Action promised

Road Transport Officer (RTO), Rajamahendravaram region, Siri Anand said that, she was aware of the accidents involving students and the negligence of auto drivers. She said the department was conducting routine checks on National Highway-16 and taking stern action of cancelling driving licenses and some cases even seizing vehicles for plying on NH. She said that by next academic year, the department would form special teams during examination time and keep a watch on auto rickshaws.

M. Ravi Prakash, Superintendent of Police, West Godavari said that highway patrolling vehicles were keeping a watch on autos plying on National Highway and also at some accident-prone spots. He said that because of their vigil, the number of accidents had come down this year.

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