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Slippery track makes it a scary ride on Pamban bridge

As many as 13 accidents, including two fatal ones, occurred in the last one month on the Pamban road bridge after it was re-laid.

Slippery track makes it a scary ride on Pamban bridge
The slippery surface of the Pamban road bride clearly visible in this picture (Photo: Bala)

According to locals, the tracks on the newly-laid road were slippery and did not provide the required grip for the vehicles and this is one of the main reasons for the accidents. The structure across the sea, which connects the holy town of Rameswaram with the mainland, called as Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge was inaugurated in 1988. Every day hundreds of tourist vehicles pass through this bridge. 

On May 7, a tourist van rammed the parapet of the bridge and all 12 inmates of the vehicle had a narrow escape. A portion of the bridge was damaged in the impact. Following this, the road was re-laid and ever since the works commenced, there was a significant rise in the number of accidents on this bridge. 

Locals claim that the road was now slippery and there was no friction. When brakes are applied, the vehicles lose balance and skid. Sethupathy, a local activist, said that in the last one month alone as many as 13 accidents had happened on the bridge and in the 29 years, ever since the bridge was constructed, the number of accidents had not been so high. 

When he enquired with the labourers as to why the road was slippery, they had told him that a rubber like substance was mixed with asphalt (tar), which had turned the stretch slippery. For thousands of devotees, who visit Rameswaram every day, the bridge has now become a tough challenge for them and hence traditional methods should be followed while laying roads to ensure a safe ride, suggested Sethupathy.

Another local fisherman, Sagayam, said that apart from tourists even local fishermen were affected to a large extent because of the slippery road. 

On Friday (June 9) alone, three accidents had happened on the bridge and in one of them a fisherman from Akkamadam near Rameswaram was run over by a bus. Similarly, on Wednesday night, the wife of a fisherman had died when she was run over by a van. 

“The brakes do not work on the road and even oil like substance appears on the stretch which adds to the slippery nature of the road,” said Sagayam. 

When contacted, an official from National Highways Department said that rubber road, like in Chennai Corporation limits, was laid on the Pamban bridge to avoid extra weight. “This is a standard method adopted on all the bridges. After movement of vehicles, the glossy nature will disappear and the road will provide the required grip to vehicles,” the official claimed. 

Relay road, demand protesting locals 
A group of people staged a road-roko protest in Pamban on Saturday, protesting the alleged official apathy to frequent accidents happening on the bridge. According to locals people, over a dozen accidents had taken place after the officials of National Highways Authority of India started resurfacing the road with slippery materials. The protestors also demanded that the road be re-laid.

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