Driver's exhaustion lead to accident

In a span of 48 hours, the bus driver had driven for more than 30 hours and was tired. A total of 19 people including the driver died as the bus hurtled off of the expressway.

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

Zahid Hasan (40) joined transport company Emad Paribahan as a driver about seven months ago. Buses of this company travel from Khulna, Pirojpur and Satkhira to capital Dhaka.

Drivers of this transport company have to drive almost non-stop. Zahid Hasan too had to drive in a tired and sleep-deprived condition. He seldom had time to rest. And the result of that was seen Sunday morning.

Driver Zahid Hasan left for Dhaka with the Emad Paribahan bus from Khulna early Sunday. His bus hurtled off the Padma Bridge expressway in Kutubpur under Shibpur upazila of Madaripur, killing 19 people including himself.

The death count was so high because the driver was speeding and exhausted, said the highway police. Zahid Hasan’s son also confirmed that his father was tired after nonstop driving.

Local administration has handed over bodies of those 19 people, killed in the accident, to their families.

At 6:30 in the evening, the body of the driver’s assistant Yusuf was handed over last from Shibchar Upazila Health Complex. The district administration and highway police have formed two separate probe committees to investigate the accident.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) sources report, the bus didn’t have a route permit and the fitness certificate had also expired.

According to highway police, fire service and local sources, the bus of Emad Paribahan left for Dhaka from Khulna’s Fultala at 4:00am on Sunday. At 5:05 am it picked up passengers from Khulna’s Shonadanga and left.

The driver lost control of the bus at Kutubpur area on the expressway right before driving onto the Padma Bridge around 7:30am.

The bus veered off of the expressway breaking the railings. Then it crashed violently into the wall of the expressway’s underpass after at least a 100-feet-fall and was crushed.

This killed 17 people including driver Zahid Hasan and his assistant Yusuf on the spot. After 12 people were taken to Dhaka Medical College for treatment, two of them including the bus supervisor Minhaz died there.

Driver was tired and sleepy

Emad Paribahan’s driver Zahid Hasan left home in Dolairpar, Dhaka on Thursday. He drove to Pirojpur with the bus on the same night. The next morning on Friday he returned back to Dhaka with passengers from Pirojpur.

He then drove to Pirojpur again on Friday afternoon. After reaching Pirojpur that night, he drove to Dhaka again on Saturday, the very next morning. He then again drove from Dhaka to Khulna on Saturday afternoon.

Resting for three to four hours inside the bus that night, he started for Dhaka at 4:00am on Sunday from Khulna’s Fultala with the bus. This way, he became exhausted driving the bus over 30 hours in a span of 48 hours.

Zahid Hasan’s son Ratul Hasan had come to Shibchar upazila health complex on Sunday afternoon to identify his father’s body. He told Prothom Alo, “My father would have time to visit home only once every week. He used to be always tired after driving.”

“After leaving the house on Thursday, he drove the bus straight for five trips on Dhaka-Pirojpur and Dhaka-Khulna route. Saturday night, my father told us on the phone that he was extremely tired. He had talked of talking rest for a day at home upon returning Dhaka on Sunday. But, now he has left us for eternal rest,” he added.

When his attention was drawn to drivers’ busy schedule and lack of rest, Emad Paribahan’s manager (operation) Wahidul Islam said over the phone, “We have arranged rooms at every bus counter for drivers of our company to take rest. Zahid Hasan, driver of the bus that was involved in the accident, didn’t inform any of us that he was tired.”

Highway police’s officer in-charge in Shibchar Abu Naeem Md Mofazzel Haque also talked about the driver being tired. He told Prothom Alo, “We have initially learnt that the driver of the Emad Paribahan bus was driving without taking rest. He was tired because of driving for long. He lost control for diving with sleepy eyes early in the morning.”

Bus lost control for speeding

The expressway starts from Dhaka’s Jatrabari in Dhaka and the 75 km road including the Padma Bridge ends in Faridpur’s Bhanga. Once the expressway ends, vehicles take separate roads leading to different districts in the south-western region of the country.

The government has fixed a speed limit of 80 kilometer per hour (kph) for vehicles moving on the expressway. But drivers drive at a speed of 100 to 120kph.

Earlier on 17 January an ambulance rammed into the back of a truck while driving at high-speed. Six people were killed in this. The incident took place on the expressway at Zajira’s Naodoba area.

The Emad Paribahan bus was running at an excessive speed Sunday. Saiful Islam, a member of Ward No. 2 of Damudar union under Fultala Upazila of Khulna was a passenger on that bus and was sitting in the back. He was injured and received treatment at Shibchar Upazila Health Complex.

He told Prothom Alo, “Once the bus entered the highway, leaving Khulna’s Shonadanga behind, it started running at a reckless speed. We passengers asked the driver to stop speeding several times but, he didn’t listen. The brakes of the bus weren’t working properly. The driver and his assistant were discussing it between themselves.”

Shibchar highway police station sub-inspector Abdullahel Baki prepared the inquest report of the recovered dead bodies. He said passengers sitting in the front rows of the bus died of severe blows to the head.

8 killed from a single district

Out of the 19 people, who died in the accident, eight are from Gopalganj. There are four from Khulna, two from Bagerhat with one each from Faridpur, Narail, Satkhira, Brahmanbaria and Pabna among the remaining 11.

Mostak Ahmed (42), son of Shamsul Haque from Bangram area of ​​Gopalganj, returned from Singapore and started a business here three years back. He was travelling to Dhaka for a visa to go to Singapore again. Mostak died in the accident on the expressway.

Mostak’s wife Jonaki Begum told Prothom Alo, “I have lost everything. I have two young sons and nowhere to go with them. There’s no one to look after us except my husband. Why didn’t I die instead of my husband?”

Superintendent of highway police in Faridpur Zone Mahabubul Hasan told Prothom Alo, “The bus was unfit and had mechanical flaws. We have formed an inquiry committee. Once the investigation has been completed, legal action will be taken against the bus owner.”

He said that their team’s working to ensure that no vehicles can run at excessive speed on the expressway. They file cases against vehicles for speeding.

5 deaths in four districts

Road accidents have killed at least five people, including two motorcyclists in four districts of the country- Pirojpur, Bogura, Chuadanga and Kurigram. The accidents occurred from morning till noon on Sunday.

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