Heed students’ demand for safe roads


Students took position on road in Dhanmondi demanding safe roads following the death of Bangladesh University of Professional (BUP) student Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury in a road accident. 20 March 2019. Dhanmondi, Dhaka. Photo: Shuvra Kanti DasThe student being run over and killed by a bus, followed by the students’ demonstrations in protest, remind us once again that our roads are in no way safe. A 15-member road accident prevention committee headed by transport leader and former shipping minister Shajahan Khan was constituted in February. However, there has been no visible action taken by this committee to lessen the fatal road accidents. The committee held a single meeting till date. A month has passed since then, but deaths on the road simply increase.

It is true that problems on the road have not been created over night and will not be solved overnight. But it is very unfortunate that the authorities have not taken minimum steps to eliminate the devastating anarchy in the transport sector. Experts said there is no alternative to launching company-based bus service and monitor licences to tackle the chaos on the roads.

The function of road accident prevention committee was questioned in parliament. The transport workers’ association, which is also led by the road accident prevention committee, is mostly responsible for disorder in the transport sector.
Students across the country started the movement demanding safe roads after the deaths of two students of Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College on 29 July 2018.They also showed the authorities how to bring order to the transport sector. At that time, it seemed the policy makers would take immediate and necessary measures to make the road safe. But nothing has been done in the last eight months. The law which was passed in parliament was opposed by transport owners and workers. They enforced strikes protesting against it. Although the government did not take any action against those who held people hostage by enforcing the strike, they filed charges against the students for taking to the streets demanding safe road.
The death of Bangladesh University of Professional (BUP) student Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury is not mere a road accident, it is tantamount to murder. Being law abiding, Abrar Chowdhury was trying to get on a bus from zebra crossing. But another bus ran over him there. Anarchy on the road is going on across the country and the deaths of 11 people including a mother and son hit by truck in Sylhet on the same day prove it. The deaths in road accidents stand at 6,568 in 753 days. Like the experts we also think the road management has to be changed radically to prevent road accidents. The problems have already identified. But the question is, who will take the necessary action?
The incidents of road accidents have multifarious impact on the people. It is a man-made disaster. The state has to shoulder the responsibility for the compensation. In the case of Abrar, the High Court asked the Suprovat Paribahan to pay Tk 1 million to his family within seven days.
The 7-point demand the demonstrating students have made to prevent the road accidents has to be taken into consideration. The perpetrators have to be brought to book. Tangle steps are required to stop the anarchy on roads by reconstituting the road prevention committee.

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