Ore-laden trucks turn highways into 'accident zones'
Road to death
The heavy traffic of iron ore-laden trucks plying on the two national highways of Karwar district has taken lives and limbs of many people.
As many as 144 people were killed and 772 injured in 512 accidents caused by trucks carrying iron ore in the last four years. And the number of accidents is increasing consistently every year. Iron ore is exported from the district’s two ports — one in Karwar and another in Belekeri near Ankola — during the period between October and May. Till May-end this year, nearly 4,000 trucks carried the ore to these ports every day through NH 63 and NH 17.
The Karwar port has infrastructure for both export and import of many goods, including iron ore. However, operations at Belekeri, a minor port, is restricted only to exporting iron ore. The export of iron ore from these ports began in 2003-04. With the demand for iron ore going up in the international market, the number of trucks plying on these highways has also increased gradually. These highways connect Karwar town to the rest of the state.
As per records available with the office of the Superintendent of Police, Karwar, as many as 114 accidents were reported in 2007, and in 2008, it went up to 174.
In 2009, the number of accidents came down to 111, mainly due to a dip in export business, and within the first four months of 2010, as many as 80 accidents have been reported. Statistics reveal that these accidents involved iron ore trucks. The highest number of accidents was reported in the limits of Ankola and Yellapura police stations.
Additional SP of Karwar V G Gaonkar said in many cases the accidents were due to drunken driving.
“Sometimes drivers have to cover two to three trips in a week. They get frustrated because of continuous driving, which often results in accidents. There are also instances where cleaners drive trucks to relieve the drivers’ workload, and cause accidents,” he said.
The public in Karwar are agitated over the increasing number of accidents. K R Desai, an advocate, said before the export activities began in the ports, he had no fear of travelling on the highways. But now, he is not sure of returning home safe after travelling in the “accident zone”.
In a nutshell
Details of death and injured in accidents due to iron-ore carrying trucks in Karwar
2007 2008 2009 2010 (tillApr 30)
Fatal accidents 28 41 29 19
Nos of deaths 28 46 42 28
Nos of injured 21 32 55 22
Non-fatal accidents 119 133 82 61
No of injured 180 236 131 95