Truck loaded with tea falls off bridge

A tea-laden truck fell off the army-built Krupman bridge on the Sudani at Domohani late last night, blocking traffic on NH34 for a couple of hours.

Prompt action by the army jawans posted at the site saved the driver and the cleaner. The vehicle, however, is still in the river.

The army said the truck, travelling from Siliguri to Calcutta, probably weighed more than 25 tonnes, the permissible limit for vehicles wanting to cross the floating bridge. Following the accident, cracks have appeared in three of the beams of the bridge’s mainframe.

The project-in-charge of the bridge, Lt Col. Kumar Abhishek, said the truck had crossed over to the other side and was climbing up the bank when it stopped and slid back on to the bridge. It careened to the left side of the causeway and hit the beams placed on the rafts under the bridge before toppling over.

“The noise of the crash alerted the jawans manning the bridge. They rushed in and rescued the driver and the cleaner,” Abhishek said.

There is a fear that the cracks caused by the accident might widen if vehicles weighing more than 25 tonnes keep crossing the bridge.

In the past, trucks appearing to be heavier than that have had to be allowed to pass because the slips issued by nearby weighbridges showed their weight to be less than 25 tonnes. To solve the problem, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had installed axle pads, or portable weighing machines, on both sides of the bridge to double-check the weight of vehicles. But recently the NHAI took away the pads.

“As a result, we cannot challenge any truck even if we are sure that it is overloaded,” an army source said.

Project director of the NHAI’s Malda division, Srikumar Bhattacharya, said axle pads could not be a permanent solution.

“However, we shall install them at the site once more,” Bhattacharya said.

Source: The Telegraph