Despite government’s efforts to bring discipline on roads and highways, there is no improvement in the situation with the country witnessing road fatalities almost every day.
Road safety activists held reckless driving, lax enforcement of traffic laws, and plying of unfit vehicles mainly responsible for road fatalities.Two people were killed and two others injured when Rangpur Express train hit a three-wheeler at a level crossing in Rasulpur of Tangail on Saturday.
The dead were identified as Rekha Talukder, 40, a passenger of the auto-rickshaw, and Kausar Mia, the driver.
Gharinda Railway Station Master Md Jalal Uddin said the injured were taken to Tangail General Hospital and later moved to Dhaka.
In the wake of deaths on roads, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday directed the drivers of bus, truck and other vehicles not to indulge in reckless driving and foul race on roads.
She directed the authorities concerned to initiate measures to bring ‘discipline on roads’.
The premier was speaking at the inauguration of the Second Kanchpur Bridge, a 4-lane flyover on Dhaka-Sylhet Highway and Latifpur Railway Overpass through videoconferencing from Ganabhaban.Sheikh Hasina earlier issued several directives, including one for introduction of driving-time limitation for drivers of long-haul vehicles, to prevent accidents and road fatalities.
The ‘procession of deaths’ on roads will stop if the prime minister’s directives could be implemented, Mozammel Huq,
general secretary of Bangladesh Jatri Kallyan Samity said.
Mozammel said 34.02 percent accidents occurred due to head-on collisions while 32.72 percent took place as vehicles ran over pedestrians and 13.23 percent after drivers lost control over their vehicles.
Plying of unfit vehicles, lack of rest for drivers, unskilled drivers and helpers, plying of slow-moving vehicles on highways, reckless driving, poor monitoring and bad road conditions are to be blamed for the accidents, he said.
The PM’s directive is yet to be implemented though over half a year has already elapsed.
“Road accidents are taking place frequently because of reckless driving, overtaking tendency, lack of using foot bridges by pedestrians, lack of traffic knowledge of passengers,” Joint commissioner of traffic police (North) Mofijuddin Ahmed said.
He also held both bus drivers and victims responsible for road accidents.
“We are taking various punitive measures against many errant drivers of the bus, truck and other vehicles that are responsible for frequent road accidents” he added.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), and Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) blamed drivers for 90% of the accidents, citing rash driving as the main reason.
They explained that drivers compete with each other to get more passengers.
But the drivers put the blame on the passengers, saying that the passengers constantly push them to drive fast, distracting them from focusing on the road.
Experts have stressed raising awareness among passengers and have discouraged the drivers from having desperate and competitive attitude on the road.
They also urged the owners to change the mindset of renting vehicles to drivers on contractual basis.
Recently, the deaths of a BBA student and a Pathao passenger under the wheels of passenger buses in the capital have infuriated the commuters.
Enraged by the death of the student, his fellow students took to the city street and blocked a road in Mirpur.
Rustom Ali, secretary general of Bangladesh Truck Owners Association, said, “There is no alternative to turning busy highways into four lanes in the country to stop frequent accidents.”
Besides, the desperate plying of Mahendros, Easybikes, auto-rickshaws, Nochimons, Karimons are also responsible for road accidents, he added.
According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), a total of 7,937 bus and mini buses ply along 246 routes in Dhaka and its adjacent areas.
According to BRTA, there are 35,000 buses and mini buses, half of which operate outside Dhaka. Some of them are out of order. Fitness of 18,000 buses and mini buses are not updated. There are five thousand unfit buses in the capital.
According to transport owners, half of the drivers in Dhaka are young and drug addicted. Most of them have no legal licences.