Road accidents are rising alarmingly year by year across the country, with no tangible action to tame the tide of such casualties, as the media reports are enough to substantiate the fact.
Not a single day passes by without mishaps—either on a highway or a byway—resulting in huge losses of valuable lives and causing vulnerability to a large fragment of people.
Over 5,000 people were killed and 7,218 injured in road accidents in 2013 and such cases are thousands in the last 11 months of 2014, reveals a report of Nirapad Sarak Chai, an organisation campaigning for road safety for decades.
The findings are based on 2,750 incidents that made news in six national dailies. It has been claimed that the number must be higher as many incidents remained unreported by the national media.
Meanwhile, Police Headquarters says at least 1,957 people were killed and 1,396 injured in road crashes in 2013.
A report says police filed 2,029 cases against 2,057 bus staffers, including 1,972 drivers, with various police stations but they succeeded in arresting only 335 drivers and 17 others. The rest of the accused are on the run.
As the data shows, some 703 buses, 657 trucks, 207 cars, 187 taxis and 371 motorcycles met the trails of road accidents in the same year.
Terming road accidents a national problem, Nirapad Sarak Chai recently sought the prime minister’s intervention to prevent needless deaths on roads by forming a high-powered action committee.
The organisation made the call from a press conference in observance of its 21 years of social movement against road casualties.
Nirapad Sarak Chai Chairman Ilias Kanchan said, “No governments take road accidents as a national problem. Since the start of our movement in 1993, we’ve been struggling to make roads safe from accidents.”
He also said highway Police Department is apparently failed to take effective measures in a bid to reduce accident on highways.
A report of Roads and Highways Department said road accidents cost Tk 4,200 crore every year while World Health Organisation takes the figure to Tk 5,000 crore.
Experts said most accidents, especially head-on collisions, occur for drinking and driving recklessly, narrow roads and lack of strict law enforcement. “Harsher punishments are not meted out to the offenders who remain at large after a few days of hibernation following accidents.”
Combined efforts by the government and the private sector are needed to bring down the number of mishaps that have become endemic, the specialists added.
Meanwhile, Brac and Power and Participation Research Centre recently revealed a report styled ‘Road Safety in Bangladesh: Realities and Challenges’.
The findings say, “Accidents are concentrated on 57 kilometres of nine national highways. Forty-two percent of the accidents are hit-and-run and 19 percent head-on collisions.”
Around 20 percent of the drivers surveyed obtained licences without tests and 92 percent reported paying bribes for getting the papers.
Key reasons for accidents according to the report are reckless driving, untrained drivers, unfit vehicles, roadside activities, poor enforcement of traffic laws, faulty road designs, culture of impunity, lack of road safety awareness, plying of motorised and non-motorised vehicles on the same road, and mental, physical and financial pressure on drivers.
During launching the report, PPRC Executive Director Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said, “There’s no comprehensive law on traffic and road transportation. A step was taken to update the colonial-era law but it’s still only on paper. The highway policy is yet to become an effective tool for ensuring road safety.”
Several people were killed in the last few days in road accidents in the capital and elsewhere. Even on Friday, three people, including a university student, were killed in Sadar upazila of Jessore.
On December 7, three female students of Rajshahi Govt College were killed after a college bus collided head-on with another vehicle and fell into a ditch in Rajshahi Sadar upazila.
On December 2, a student of Independent University, Bangladesh was killed as a bus hit his motorbike in the capital’s Badda area. Police seized the bus but the driver managed to flee. Sub-inspector Faisal said, “The bus driver went into hiding after the accident but we’re trying to arrest the driver, Miraz.”
On November 30, an MBA student of International Islamic University of Chittagon’s Dhaka campus, was killed in a road accident in Mouchak area.
A student of Kushtia Islamic University was also killed when a bus knocked him down on the campus the same day.
Incensed, fellow students went berserk, torched and vandalised vehicles passing by the road. Since then, the university remains closed sine die.
Earlier on November 29, noted journalist and former managing director and chief editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha Jaglul Ahmed Chowdhury died in a tragic road accident in Karwanbazar area.
The victim’s son filed a case with Kalabagan police station but the police are yet to identify the killer bus and arrest the driver.