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Slogans are seen on the backs of buses saying, “An accident causes lifelong sufferings of a family”. But the accident that took place in Katakhali in Rajshahi has caused lifelong grief for at least four families who have lost their relatives.

According to a report of Prothom Alo, a gas-powered microbus with 17 passengers caught fire when it collided with a bus of Hanif Paribahan coming from the opposite direction around 1.45pm on Friday. All the passengers in the microbus died in this incident.

Among the dead were 16 members from four families. They were going to Rajshahi from Pirganj. According to the eyewitnesses, the microbus collided with the bus while giving way to a bamboo-laden van on the road. Later, police arrested the bus driver named Abdur Rahman from Rajshahi city. According to the concerned sources, on the same day 10 more people died in road accidents in Chattogram, Gaibandha, Narsingdi, Satkhira, Munshiganj and Chapainawabganj.

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Despite the death toll on the roads increasing, there is no initiative to remedy it. The government passes laws to prevent accidents, but there is no law enforcement. Whenever the government tries to implement the Road Transport Act, a section of transport owners and workers takes to the streets and calls for a strike. It seems that a vested quarter in the government is obstructing the implementation of the road safety law. If safety on the road is ensured, everyone including the passengers, drivers and transport workers can survive.

The accident in Rajshahi revealed some harsh facts. First, a bamboo-laden van was not supposed to be on the road. The van driver violated the law by this. Second, a total of 17 people died in the fatal accident while the bus driver was trying to give way to the bamboo laden van. Only an old woman survived while everyone else of her family died. Third, as the microbus was gas-run, it caught fire as soon as it collided with the bus and within just 10 minutes everyone was burnt to ashes. If the microbus was not gas-run, the passengers might not have died in this way.

Our road transport system is week, vehicles are unfit, most of the drivers are incompetent and untrained. It is also high time to think just how safe the gas-run public transports are, actually. At one time, a decision was taken to use CNG (compressed natural gas) in the public transport due to the ample supply of natural gas. At present, due to shortage of natural gas, we have to rely on LNG (liquefied natural gas) and fuel oil.

We cannot bring back those who died in accidents. But the concerned persons should take the responsibility that in future nobody has to die in road accidents. It is also their moral duty to implement the law issued by the government. Otherwise, people will think that the law passed by the government after the death of two students on the airport road was just eyewash.

The implementation of the Road Transport Act of 2018 is immediately needed. Besides, the instructions from the prime minister to prevent road accidents should be followed too. Hopefully the government will not hesitate to take effective initiatives to prevent deaths on the road, despite the delay.

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