Helmets must for bikers, pillion riders: Transport minister (Goa Newsletter)

September 1st, 2012 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Sep 1 (IANS) Goa’s most popular festival, Ganesh Chaturthi, which will be celebrated Sep 19, is the deadline set by the state government to make wearing of helmets compulsory for motorcyclists and pillion riders.

On an average, one person is killed each day on Goa’s roads.

“We will strictly enforce the rule after Ganesh Chaturthi. Let our people worship Lord Ganesh and enjoy the festival,” Transport Minister Sudin Dhavalikar told IANS Saturday.

Till June this year, 150 people were killed in accidents in Goa’s 1,300 km of roads. A majority of the deaths were of two-wheeler riders and those riding pillion.

In 2011, 300 people died in road accidents in the state, which has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of vehicles.

“We have to save our people from getting seriously injured in accidents. Hope Lord Ganesh will give them the wisdom to understand the importance of helmets,” Dhavalikar said.

According to the transport minister, the Supreme Court was cracking down on states which have not made wearing helmets compulsory. This forced the Goa government to further crack the whip on wearing of helmets.

“These are Supreme Court guidelines. I am not saying this. Even the motor vehicles act (MVA) makes it mandatory for both the driver as well as the pillion rider to wear helmets,” Dhavalikar said.

In Goa, helmets are compulsory for the rider only on the national highway. Wearing a helmet is not mandatory within city limits.

Earlier attempts by the Goa government to make wearing helmets compulsory were thwarted by some civil society groups, who insisted that wearing of helmets be made a matter of choice.

With the helmet rule being enforced this month, president of the Goa Motorcycle Taxi Riders Association (GMRTA) Suresh Thakur, however, has a peculiar problem confronting him and the hundreds of motorcycle pilots, or the singular two-wheeler yellow and black taxis operating on Goa’s roads.

Thakur disagrees with the helmet rule.

“How can we ask a passenger to wear a helmet which has been worn by several other people? Will you wear anyone else’s shirt? Our passengers won’t wear anyone else’s helmet either. It is unhygienic. This rule will kill our business,” Thakur said.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has assured that the transport department would provide one helmet every six month for pillion riders for motorcycle taxis.

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