At least 57 persons have been killed and over 100 injured in road accidents of the Eid holidays. But it is not over yet. People are still returning to the cities after Eid.
On Thursday, seven persons were killed when a bus of picnickers ‘lost control’ and met with an accident along the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. There is no room for complacence when it comes to road management. There will obviously be a heavy influx of traffic to the cities over the coming week.
Ironically, the more traffic there is on the roads, the slower the speed will be. And slower vehicular movement means tailbacks which cause immense suffering. But perhaps this suffering is the lesser evil. Nothing could be worse, after all, than the loss of lives. The bottom line is, the passengers have to choose between time or life.
So much is being said about infrastructural development, but passenger safety remains at risk. Traffic experts say that the death toll on the roads this Eid was less than that of Eid-ul-Fitr and that was because of the immense traffic tailbacks on the highways.
Disorder has mounted on the highways rather than any form of order or discipline. Many 4-hr journeys have taken up to 20 hours or more. The road transport and bridges minister had expressed regret for this. So it is only natural that when vehicles move at a snail’s pace, there will be a lesser number of accidents.
Officials of the roads, railway and shipping ministries had several rounds of meetings before Eid. If they want to take credit for the lesser number of death on the roads, that will be unfortunate. They should admit that their efforts, as usual, have gone in vain. It is not feasible to have order and discipline on the roads when throughout the year the transport remains mismanaged, law are violated and recommendations are not implemented.
If the government wanted safe roads, it could not have ignored the important clauses of the 2018 road transport act. It could not have bowed down to the unjust demands of the transport workers and owners. It is imperative that the compensation fund be created and that the families of the victims be duly compensated. Why to these families have to rush to court to get their due compensation?
The transport owners and workers do not give two hoots to the transport laws and even ignore the prime minister’s directives. The passengers are held hostage by them. People are even willing to pay higher fairs, as long as their journey is safe and smooth.
Unless the unholy alliance between the officials in charge of road management and the transport owners and workers is broken, mismanagement will rule the roads. And festive journeys will turn tragic.
The government’s responsibility cannot end with a mere apology from the minister. Tangible and effective measures must be taken to bring down the incidence of road accidents. The various authorities must duly carry out their duties or must be held accountable.