Monday, 6 February, 2023

Transport Anarchy on Roads and Highways Must End

  • Dr Matiur Rahman
  • 23rd January, 2023 09:47:13 PM
  • Print news

There is no day when accidents do not occur on roads and highways of our country. The cries of the injured and the heartbreaking cries of the families of the deceased make anyone shriek.

Vehicle drivers, their helpers and ordinary passengers are constantly dying in road accidents in the country.

Ordinary pedestrians are not left out. Many innocent pedestrians also become victims of accidents while walking on the road. There is no sign of stopping the death march on roads and highways. Instead, it is increasing day by day.

A report by Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samiti published recently mentioned that in 2022 a total of 10,858 people were killed and 12,875 injured in 7,617 accidents on roads, railways and waterways in Bangladesh.

According to the report, 9,951 people were killed and 12,356 injured in 6,749 road accidents, the highest figure in the last eight years. Compared to 2021, the number of road accident-induced deaths increased by 27.43 percent in 2022.

Besides, 550 people were killed and 201 injured in 606 rail accidents in the year just ended. Moreover, 357 people died, 318 were injured, and another 743 were missing in 262 shipping accidents mentioned in the Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samiti report.

Statistics show that at different times 15,000 minor and major road accidents occur in Bangladesh every year. According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), about 30 people die in road accidents every day across the country. According to that, the number of people killed in a year stands at 10800. According to the World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO), 12,000 and 20,000 people in Bangladesh die in road accidents yearly.

Actual accidents are four or five times more than reported in the media. The government needs to get out of the cycle of only forming committees and making recommendations to control road accidents. More than all these, it is necessary to formulate a people-friendly transport strategy.

Experts say that 61.80 per cent of accidents are due to the reckless speed of vehicles on the road. 38.20 per cent of accidents occurred due to carelessness and negligence of pedestrians. However, the people concerned are talking about many other reasons behind the death of pedestrians on the road.

Analysing the accidents of pedestrians killed on the road, the people concerned say that the number of pedestrians killed in road accidents is the highest on the highway. Regional roads are next in terms of pedestrian fatalities, and then there are rural roads. City roads rank last in pedestrian fatalities.

Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samiti has alleged that the number of road accidents and deaths is increasing due to irregularities, corruption and lack of accountability of the agencies responsible for ensuring road safety.

Among the various factors responsible for accidents, the main factors are; reckless driving, risky overtaking, dilapidated roads, unfit vehicles, inefficient drivers, use of mobile phones or headphones while driving and lack of awareness among road users.

Factors identified by various organisations for road accidents in Bangladesh are driver carelessness and unlicensed unskilled drivers, defective vehicles, the narrowness of roads, low-speed vehicles on highways, competitive driving and overtaking, ignorance of traffic laws and violation of traffic laws, lack of necessary dividers between roads, lack of over bridges, lack of awareness among road users, occupation of sidewalk hawkers, poor traffic management, illegal stalls and installations on roads, widespread road digging, overloading of goods and passengers, political instability including road blockades-meetings and strikes, extortion in the public transport sector, lack of political will, lack of proper implementation of laws, etc.

The present age is the age of information technology. The fourth industrial revolution has already started. Much progress has been made in this sector in our country as well. Our speed of life has increased a lot. But due to the lack of proper management in the transport system, our speed is slowing down. The transport system of Dhaka city is visual proof of it. It is not known in any civilised and developed country that the capital city itself comes to a standstill for hours due to various types of traffic.

Experts constantly present reports on how Dhaka's anarchic public transport system causes much financial loss, health damage, and mental deterioration. Experts have given the government many suggestions and implementation strategies to overcome this situation. But that doesn't seem to work. The situation remains as it was, and it is getting worse daily. So the pace at which we want to move is halted due to chaos in the public transport sector.

To reach this goal of becoming a developed country, the sector that experts are repeatedly emphasising to give more importance to is the transport sector. Because they do not see any signs of implementing a transport system suitable for developed countries by 2041. Instead, anarchy has been created in the country's transport sector, which is a significant hindrance to reaching a developed country.

Experts say that transport anarchy on roads and highways, including the capital city, should be reduced to prevent accidents. Chaos on the streets is increasing instead of planning and implementing the laws to minimise the anarchy of transport. As a result, accidents are not under control. Small vehicles are one of the factors that create chaos on the roads and highways. One of them is the motorcycle. These vehicles are creating danger on the streets. At the same time, the speed of all vehicles should be controlled. There is no substitute for road safety.

Experts also suggested several steps to reduce road accidents at different times. Those are: stopping drivers from driving vehicles in excessive speed after taking drugs; installation of close-circuit (CC) cameras on accident-prone roads and highways and implementation of the Road Transport Act2018 strictly.

Removal of the market stalls from the sides of national and regional highways. De-occupation of footpaths, roads and streets of the country, etc. Installation of road signs (traffic signs) and drawing of zebra crossings, professional training and moral education of public transport drivers and workers, formulation and implementation of pedestrian and public transport friendly road transport rules, etc.

An awareness raising programme among transport workers and passengers and mass people should be undertaken. If those are implemented, accidents will be reduced a lot. It is called that an improved transportation system is a symbol of civilisation. Thus, to build up a developed country and to prove us a civilised nation, anarchy on the roads and highways must be stopped.

(The writer is a researcher and development worker)

Source:  Sun Editorial