Chennai: Umar Mansur literally stood on the jaws of death this morning. Six feet was all that saved Mansur from being reduced to a casualty when he fell from the bike and rolled over perilously close to the massive iron scaffolding that came down from the elevated corridor of metro rail on GST Road and killed software engineer Giridharan of Madipakkam on the spot. Even while escaping death by a whisker, Mansur has no smile to wear, but only tears to bear. For, he saw Giridharan bleed to death.
“We all started from the signal about the same time. He did not drive fast even. I was riding a few feet behind him. I saw the iron angle (scaffolding) collapse. It hit him right on the helmet and fell flat on the ground. He was knocked down from the bike. He fell right there. His bike moved a few paces and toppled.” “I applied the brakes and made a sharp cut to avoid the scaffolding. I fell. So did another motorist beside me. He did not suffer any major injury so he started his bike and left immediately. I experienced severe pain in my back. I could not move easily. I regained my composure only after a few seconds. When I stood up, I saw him bleeding profusely. The bikes behind us stopped a safe distance away. No one even came forward to check if he (Giridharan) was alive. He lay motionless on the floor. Everyone was scared that something would fall on him or her. I took my belongings, which were strewn all around. I made a call to my office. It was 8.50am then. Meanwhile, someone had also called the police,” the assistant service manager of a generator company said.“I had no idea what really happened or what I should have done. Policemen arrived in five minutes. People went up to him only to find him dead,” said Mansur whose voice stuttered in agony as he recalled those horrific moments.
“I went to the police station and gave a written statement. I returned home and cried inconsolably. Yes, I survived. I consider myself lucky for that. What about him? I didn’t even know his name till this morning. But, I saw him die right in front of me. I cannot smile for being alive. He died because of someone’s carelessness. It should not have happened,” Mansur lamented. The 32-year-old father of two told Deccan Chronicle that he was not contacted by CMRL till late in the evening.
Mr Mansur, who also hailed from Madipakkam, regretted that he was not able to attend Giridharan’s cremation in the evening as he had an appointment with the doctor.
Motorists who travel on the Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road from Pallavaram to Guindy face several ordeals daily. The tragedy that befell Giridharan on Wednesday was one such.
Reason: “Chaotic” metro rail construction work on the stretch between Airport and Azhar Khana. Marketing executive Senthil, a motorist, “It takes me only 15 minutes to drive from Tambaram to Airport, but to cover the next five kilometres, I require an hour easily as most part of GST Road has been taken over for metro rail construction work.
“An entire lane of the road has been closed for erecting pillars, reducing the commutable area to just two lanes. The portion of GST Road in front of Air Cargo is the trickiest of all. Two-wheeler riders have to sneak through narrow gaps between buses and cars,” he says.
Motorists also accuse CMRL of having commenced construction even without identifying alternate roads to divert two-wheeler traffic on the route. Had they done it, fatalities like the one on Wednesday could have been averted, they point out. “Officers Training Academy (OTA) does not allow public to drive through its road, citing security reasons. The Cantonment Board (CB) has also blocked the road connecting GST road to Mount-Poonamallee Road for over a year. I don’t see any reason why the cantonment board should keep the road blocked,” Suresh, another motorist, says.
Motorists allege that at several spots on the stretch there is lack of safety measures done like adequate signage and placing heavy duty nets which would protect iron structures from falling on to the road. Footpath is used by motorists on narrow carriageways. Motorists want the metro rail administration to identify alternate roads immediately and open them for smooth flow of vehicles.