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A BRIDGE TOO FAR FROM SAFETY!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018
By Jagruti Verma. Photographs by Trupti Arekar

By 8 pm yesterday, the first Churchgate bound train had crossed the path that used to be under the shadow of a footover-bridge until 12 hours ago. At around 7:30 am yesterday morning, the foot-overbridge section of the Gokhale bridge at Andheri collapsed, heavily damaging the Over Head Equipment (OHE). The incident resulted in 5 persons getting injured.

However, the scale of the tragedy could have been worse, had it not been for motorman Chandrashekar Sawant, who was able to pull the emergency brakes the moment he saw the collapsing bridge and snapped OHE wires. If he had not done so, the situation would have been way worse and many lives would have been lost. While addressing the media, Union Minister Piyush Goyal announced an award of Rs 5 lakh for Sawant's presence of mind and bravery.

All throughout the day, despite efforts being put in by officials of Central Railway and Western Railway to restore normal operations as soon as possible, locals on all the four lines of the suburban network were hit. Heavy rainfall did nothing to help the situation. Coupled with issues on the WR and heavy rainfall, the central and harbour lines saw delays and overcrowded trains.

The harbour line section on the western line, between Andheri and Goregaon were restored by 2:20 pm yesterday. It was a big relief for both commuters and officials as it meant that the repair work was on track. However, the question of safety of such bridges is still under a massive question mark. In fact, yesterday a September 5 tweet came to the fore, where Vishal Tandel had warned the railways about the dilapidated condition of the bridge. However, the authorities did not pay heed to the warning or so it can be gathered from yesterday's incident.

It has been announced that an enquiry into the matter will be conducted by the Commissioner of Rail Safety. And though the work done by the railways to restore the network is commendable, as the network was restored to a functional state by late night, one cannot help but remember the September 29 Elphinstone stampede tragedy of last year and wonder if the bridges a Mumbaikar uses everyday are in fact safe at all.

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