Volvo ready to instal emergency exit doors

Volvo ready to instal emergency exit doors

A day after the tragic Volvo bus fire, which cut short seven lives and left more than 40 people injured near Haveri, a senior Volvo company official on Friday indicated their willingness to reintroduce an emergency exit door in multi-axle buses.

However,  Senior vice-president of Volvo Buses Akash Passey said that the Transport Department would need to incorporate changes in its guidelines to the company.

Passey, who flew down from Sweden in the aftermath of  Thursday’s accident, said, “We were providing the emergency exit door as sought by the government (transport department) in the past but later discontinued the provision after the stipulation was withdrawn.”

He added, “We will provide the emergency exit door again if the government amends the guidelines afresh.”

In 2008-09, a department circular was issued stating that the company must design buses with provision for an emergency door in the middle of the bus for easy and safe evacuation of passengers.

However, this circular was withdrawn in 2011 with arguments that the middle door was neither mandatory nor mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act.

However, the senior vice-president who spoke to Deccan Herald, was unwilling to share any information on the technical aspects of the buses, asked if there could be any technical flaw which led to at least two Volvo buses catching fire on impact in the last fortnight.

Passey said, “We should not forget that these were accidents and many aspects such as the road conditions, drivers behaviour, maintenance of the buses, the operators and manufacturers have to be kept in mind when we talk about such incidents. In India, the number of road accidents and casualties caused by such accidents are far higher as compared to other countries”.

On the Mahbubnagar accident, Passey said, “The incident is still under investigation and Volvo experts are flying down from Sweden; it takes time in incidents of this magnitude to pinpoint the reasons”.

He said, “In our buses, we provide four exits, two in the front and two at the back as against the requirement of two as per the guidelines. Eighty per cent of the glasses in these buses are breakable when one uses force in case of an emergency. However, if drivers are fatigued or overworked, Volvo cannot be blamed for it.”

On speculation that the Volvo buses do not meet the conditions for ground clearance, as both fire accidents were caused by fuel tank exploding, Passey said, “Our products meet all local regulations as far as safety of the passengers is concerned. The research and designing of the product is not a days work but thorough work of 12 years which requires lot of research, testing and re-testing to meet the stringent criteria”.

Meanwhile, state transport minister Ramalinga Reddy said, “It has been decided that from now on the buses will be procured only if they fulfill the condition of having one emergency door and one emergency exit. Also, for our own existing fleet of Volvo buses, in BMTC and KSRTC, we will make provisions for having an emergency door along with the emergency exit.

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