Recompensing the victims of road accidents following the order of High Court and compensation given under the Road Transport Act of 2018 are two separate issues. The HC asked to compensate the family of Rajib Hossain, who died in a road accident, of Tk 5 million in the next two months.
We hope, there will be no excuse to pay this money. We will most likely hope that the government will take initiative to implement the systematic provisions of providing compensation in the Road Transport Act of 2018 ahead of parliament's approval of national budget.
The horrific statistics of 25,000 people's death in road accidents in past 10 years has been published in the budget session only. More than 150 people lost their lives before and after Eid-ul-Fitr. The state has no commitment to stand by the families who lost their kins as if it has no feeling. Every day new casualties occur. The state has failed to ensure road safety. It is even close-fisted while providing financial assistance to the victims of the road accidents. In fact, this indifference of the state cannot be easily forgiven.
The High Court has ordered to compensate of Tk 100 million to more than 10 families between 2016 and 2019, but its implementation rate is not satisfactory. Most of the cases of compensation are pending in the lower court. Only two families received compensation in only two cases so far in the history of the country after long legal battles.
Recently, a victim who lost his leg in a road accident has received only Tk 500,000 from Tk 5 million of payment ordered by the HC. There is uncertainty of payment for the rest of the money. All this indicates that the culture of compensation does not exist in the country. The state will have to come forward to make it acceptable in the private sector.
According to section 52 of the Road Transport Act, the victim or the family, as the case may be, will get the compensation, if a person gets hurt, damaged, or injured in a road accident.
A trustee board under the government will form a financial assistance fund to provide the amount of compensation or expenses for treatments. The amount of money should be fixed and determined by the rules.
The law also states that considering the classification of motor vehicles, annual or one-time deposit will be made for the financial assistance fund against each motor vehicle from the owner or the transport organisations. So it is clear that the act only mentions collection of funds from the vehicle owners. But we think, the state must have a contribution to the fund of compensation.
The government lacks efficiency to control road accidents. The compensation fund is fully dependent on the owners. That is the reason why the owners will resist it. It appears that the government is yielding to their pressure.
It is a matter of regret, the authorities are giving impunity to the politically powerful transport sector by following the practice of slowing down the act's implementation. Sadly, we saw all the governments since the independence to exempt the transport owners. Claims Tribunal had the authority to fix the amount of compensation in the previous law. No government, however, has implemented that provision.
The BRTA chairman recently told us in an interview that the act has been drafted. It will be effective within two months. Yet the formation of fund is not certain even if the provision is implemented. So it is advisable to allocate money in the budget.