Unfit Vehicles: Killing on the roads must stop

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

More than 14 people are dying on the streets every day, according official records alone.  The number of accidents and deaths soars higher during Eid and other festivals or long vacations. As many as 367 people were killed in road accidents before and after the Eid within a span of just 15 days.

What’s most concerning is that the majority of those being killed or injured in road accidents are young and of the working age population. Though their deaths or disabilities are an unbearable tragedy for the family as well as the reason of terrible financial loss for the state, nobody including BRTA, police and the roads division is bothered to stop road accidents.

The main causes of road accidents in Bangladesh are unfit vehicles, drivers without licences, illegal vehicles and driving while tired. Though, everyone keeps repeating that as mantra neither the government authorities nor the police or the owners follow that. As a result, the roads are trapped inside the vicious cycle of chaos and disorder.

Meanwhile, the pedestrians, passengers, drivers and their assistants are falling victim to this cruel collective negligence. Yet, Bangladesh had made a promise to the United Nations that the road accidents would be reduced by half within 2020. Though the deadline for fulfilling that promise has been extended till 2030, we are seeing us moving backward after all. The tally of accidents and deaths on roads is indeed moving upwards every single year.

But in recent years, the maximum expenditure in our national budget has been done in the infrastructural development sector. Does that mean our policy makers have already assumed that all the accidents would just vanish on their own from constructing roads and bridges?

Former director of the Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), professor Md Hadiuzzaman believes Bangladesh might be the only country in the world that has completely ignored science in case of road management. By allowing unfit vehicles on the road and letting drivers without licence drive these, we are just widening the roads and expecting that the accidents will reduce automatically, he added.

Prothom Alo reports that 15 people were killed in a collision between a bus and a mini truck on last 16 April. It came out after the accident that the truck was illegally being used to transport people and the bus didn’t have a fitness certificate. Exactly six days after that, two students from Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET) were killed being hit by a bus in Raozan of Chattogram. The 43-years-old bus that hit those students wasn’t fitness certified.

Now the question is do 43-year-old buses ply on road in any country around the world? Allowing this type of unfit buses run on the street is equal to passing death sentence against the citizens.

It is the responsibility of the BRTA to monitor if unfit vehicles are moving on the streets. According to their records, till 15 April of the current year almost 617,000 (6.17 lakh) vehicles didn’t collect fitness certificates. No country of the world provides fitness certificates in bulks like ours. Yet, many owners aren’t interested in getting fitness certificates for their vehicles.

And the reason is they know that unfit vehicles can be driven on the streets as well as on highways by managing the situation in different ways. That’s why we are seeing that road accidents and deaths on roads in the first three months of the current year has increased consecutively by 60.28 per cent and 40.33 per cent compared to the first three months of last year.

Road accidents cannot be reduced in any way by leaving unfit vehicles in the hands of unlicenced drivers on roads and highways. The way the Road Transport Act has been revised and transformed into a powerless law like a tiger without claws and teeth under pressure from the transport owners and labourers, is rather playing a supportive role in increasing chaos on the road. What alternatives are there except political goodwill to reduce road accidents? Killing of the citizens on roads must be stopped.

Also Read