The number of road accidents and road traffic casualties is rising in the country although the government has taken various initiatives to reduce the road crashes.
Experts said the plying of slow-loving vehicles like battery-run rickshaws and illegal three-wheelers on roads and highways defying government ban is behind the rise in road accidents.
The experts also suggested increasing annual budget for road safety programmes, ending extortion on roads, curbing corruption and irregularities in different regulatory bodies, and ensuring transparency and accountability in road construction and maintenance.
According to data by Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (BJKS), road crashes in the country are still one of the leading causes of deaths as 43,856 people were killed in 31,793 road accidents across the country in the last six years.
Besides, 91,358 people were injured in these accidents, according to a report released by BJKS on Thursday, marking National Road Safety Day to be observed today.
Some, 3,095 people were killed in 3,259 road crashes in the first seven months of this year, according to the report.
Referring to the data, BJKS Secretary General Mohammad Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said government’s pledges to restore road safety did not prove effective in the last six years. “Despite the implementation of various election pledges of the incumbent Awami League government, there is no progress in executing the promise of ensuring safe roads during its third consecutive term,” he said.
According to BJKS, some 8,642 people were killed and 21,855 injured in 6,581 road accidents in 2015 alone. In 2016, some 6,055 people lost their lives on roads and 15,914 others were injured in 4,312 road accidents.
Besides, 7,397 people were killed and 16,193 injured in 4,979 road accidents in 2017 while 7,221 people killed and 15,466 injured in 5,514 road accidents in 2018 and 7,855 people were killed and 13,330 injured in 5,516 road accidents in 2019.
Although the plying of vehicles remained mostly restricted due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, there was no end to accidents in 2020. During the pandemic, 6,686 people were killed and 8,600 injured in 4,891 road accidents.
Admitting that ensuring road safety is a challenge, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Thursday said it has to be ensured by any means. “Currently, the road network has been extensively developed across the country but it’s important to restore discipline on roads and transport sector no matter how much development has been done,” said Quader, also Awami League general secretary.
As per the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) data, on average, at least 64 people are killed and over 150 are injured in road accidents every day.
Besides, traffic chaos, anarchy, random fare hike and harassment of passengers still remain the same as before.
As a result, passengers’ sufferings, traffic jam and road accidents are increasing day by day, the BJKS report added.
It said the road safety issue is no longer limited to just observing a particular day as there is a need to implement the election pledges of the government to ensure safe roads for people on an urgent basis.
Concerns over road accidents and fatalities led to two major movements for road safety since July 2018, but the situation did not improve at all.