Road accidents: No directives working


Seeing the way road accidents took place during this Eid-ul-Azha, one can say drivers have become more reckless. Many consider a road trip in Bangladesh is like a death trip.

Gold trader Rafikuzzaman of Mymensingh was going to attend a relative's wedding ceremony with his family on 16 August when their car fell into a ditch to give room a bus coming from the opposite direction. The accident killed five people including four of Rafikuzzaman's family.

The driver of a picnic bus returning from Cox's Bazar lost control on the way to Dhaka and hit a tree, killing eight people. Many are dying every day for reckless driving, faulty roads, and lack of public awareness. According to Jatri Kalyan Samity, a passengers' welfare platform, as many as 224 were killed and 866 wounded in 203 road accidents during the 12 days of Eid vacation this year.

Students across the country demonstrated in August last year demanding safe roads. Following the movement, the government passed an act to raise the prison sentence for deaths caused on the roads. Prior to that prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued a five-point directives in June to prevent road accidents. These included 1. training drivers and their assistants, 2. keeping substitute drivers in long routes and not allowing a driver to drive for more than five hours at a stretch, 3. compulsory fasting of seat belts for drivers and passengers, 4. setting up restrooms by the highways for the drivers, and 5. abiding by the traffic signals.

A special committee was formed too on 4 September to prevent road accidents and develop traffic systems. This committee drew nine decisions and recommended 20 points. As Bangladesh has ratified the United Nations declaration to set up a modern, safe, eco-friendly, and technology based transport systems, it aimed to halve the number of deaths and wounded by 2020. But most of the decisions and recommendations have not been materialised. The act passed last year to ensure the punishment of the law violators has rendered ineffective too due to the protests of the transport owners and workers.

The government takes it seriously when a serious road accident takes place or the students take to the street. It takes a number of decisions too to bring order on the road and to make it safe. Then letters are exchanged among the high officials, but everything runs just as usual. The care that was paid by the officials of the concerned department and organisations during the home going journeys is even missing during the return journeys after Eid which has increased deaths and accidents. This cannot be allowed.

Road accidents are common, more or less, in every country. What makes them different is that other countries punish the responsible ones, but the culprits are always at large here in Bangladesh. The Kolkata police too in India have arrested the driver of the vehicle that killed two Bangladeshis in Kolkata on Friday.

Whom have the police detained so far here in connection with the road accidents during Eid that killed many people? Has any official of any organisation been brought to answer?

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