Bangabandhu Expressway saw 135 accidents a year, recommendations flouted

A bus picks up passengers at an unauthorised spot at Hasamdia area at Bhanga upazila recently.

Road accidents conintue unabated on Bangabandhu Expressway as 135 accidents claim lives of 131 people in the last one year. Over-speeding of vehicles, unskilled drivers without licences, unfit vehicles, haphazard movement of motorcycles and pedestrian crossings without using foot-over bridges are causing accidents on the expressway.

Meanwhile, there is no visible activity of the highway police to prevent accidents. Inquiry committees are usually formed after major accidents on the highway and they publish reports, but their recommendations are not implemented.

The length of the Bangabandhu Expressway or the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Highway from Dhaka's Jatrabari to Faridpur's Bhanga is 55 kilometers.

Out of this, the length of Jatrabari to Padma Bridge part of the expressway is 32 kilometers and Zajira to Bhanga part is 23 kilometers.

According to statistics of highway police, the Dhaka-Mawa portion of the expressway saw 72 accidents between March 2023 and February 2024. A total of 64 people were killed and 78 injured in these accidents. As many as 57 cases and 15 general diaries (GD) were filed over these accidents.

The Zajira-Bhanga portion of the expressway saw 63 accidents that claimed 67 lives and injured 94 more. A total of 57 cases and 15 general diaries (GD) were filed over these accidents.

Recommendations not implemented

The recommendations made by the probe committee to prevent accidents on the expressway were not implemented. The most fatal accident took place on the expressway on 19 March last year as a passenger bus veered off the road breaking guardrail at Kutubpur area in Madaripur’s Shibchar. A total of 19 people were killed in the accident. Madaripur district administration formed a four-member probe body to find out the reasons of the accident and recommendations to prevent such accidents.

Driver of the Emad Paribahan bus lost control of the vehicle at Kutubpur along the Padma Bridge expressway at Shibchar, Madaripur
Prothom Alo

The committee made 14 recommendations to prevent accidents and loss of lives on the expressway. The recommendations include ensuring that drivers have license and vehicles have fitness, making it mandatory that passengers wear seatbelts, making the expressway at least six-lane, monitoring speed limits, installing GPS trackers and CCTV cameras in every vehicle and preparing a combined database of all vehicles that run on highway.

Asked about the matter, Madaripur deputy commissioner Marufur Rashid Khan told Prothom Alo, “I will look into why the recommendations made to prevent accidents on Bangabandhu Expressway were not implemented. I will stress on proper implementation of these recommendations. Legal action would be taken against those who flout rules on the expressway.”

On 24 June last, an ambulance lost control and hit the road divider in Maligram. The ambulance caught fire due to the crash and seven people on board were charred. Faridpur district administration formed a six-member probe body over the incident. The committee submitted its report two days later and made six recommendations including setting up cameras to monitor speed, increasing monitoring of highway police and installing speed control devices in every vehicle with supervision of BRTA.

Faridpur BRTA’s assistant director Emran Khan told Prothom Alo, “We informed BRTA chairman for implementation of the recommendation about installing the speed control device. The process is on to implement the recommendation.”

Bus stops everywhere

There are designated bus stops on the expressway, yet buses pick up and drop passengers elsewhere. There are at least eight such ‘bus stops’ between Zajira and Bhanga. On Wednesday, buses were seen picking and dropping passengers at Ramnakanda, Surjanagar, Pacchar and Naodoba areas. The buses stopped for 5-10 minutes at Pacchar circle and Bhanga toll plaza areas. Many long-haul buses also have makeshift ticket counters in these places. Also, trucks and microbuses were seen parked on the highway.

Many of the victims of road accidents on Expressway were pedestrians. Most of the pedestrians do not use foot overbridge and cross the highway either by walking or running risking their lives.

The vehicles are supposed to follow certain speed limits on the expressway. Yet, the drivers allegedly flout the speed limit on the expressway.

Soleman Mia, a driver of a Shyamoli Paribahan bus, said, “Speed of our bus fluctuates around 100 km per hour. Speed is not a matter here. If haphazard parking and wanton picking and dropping of passengers persist, then the risk of accident increases.”

Highway police Madaripur region’s superintendent Shahinur Alam Khan told Prothom Alo, “We could not implement the recommendation of installing speed control cameras on the expressway. Such a pilot project is ongoing in Chattogram. Cameras will be installed here based on the success of that pilot project.”