Sunday, 28 November, 2021

Roads, highways mired in chaos

Two killed by DSCC, DNCC garbage vehicles in 24 hours

Roads, highways mired in chaos
Students of Notre Dame College stage demonstration for the second consecutive day on Thursday blocking the GPO intersection in the capital in protest against the death of their fellow Nayeen Hasan in a road accident. —Reaz Ahmed Sumon

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Anarchy and indiscipline continued to prevail on roads and highways across the country, resulting in frequent road accidents and loss of lives.

Defying the High Court ban, different types of unauthorised small vehicles, including CNG-run auto-rickshaw, human-hauler, Mahindra, easy-bike, locally-made Nosimon, Karimon and Votvoti, are still plying different busy highways, contributing to road accidents.

Casualties on roads and highways have turned into a regular phenomenon in the capital and elsewhere across the country.

In the capital, two people, including a student of Notre Dame College, have met the tragic end of their life in two separate road accidents involving garbage vehicles of the two Dhaka city corporations in a span of 24 hours.

On Wednesday, second-year student of Notre Dame College Nayeem Hasan was killed after being hit by a garbage-carrying vehicle of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) in Gulistan area.

Police said a conservancy worker named Rasel Khan was driving the garbage truck during the accident.

Talking to reporters on Thursday, Abdul Ahad, deputy commissioner (Motijheel division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said Harun was the driver of the vehicle assigned by the city corporation. “Harun was supposed to drive the vehicle, but instead of Harun it was run by Rasel.”

He said they have launched a drive to arrest Harun.  Besides, a motorcyclist died after a trash compactor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) hit him in the capital’s Panthapath area on Thursday afternoon. The deceased was identified as Ahasan Kabir Khan.

The DNCC vehicle hit Kabir’s motorbike around 2:30pm, leaving him critically injured. He was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where doctors declared him dead, said Asaduzzaman, inspector (investigation) of Kalabagan Police Station.

Police seized the vehicle but its driver fled.

Hearing the death news of their fellow, students of Notre Dame College and some other colleges burst into anger and took to the streets in protest against the death.

As part of their protest, students from different educational institutions staged demonstrations in different parts of the capital for the second consecutive day on Thursday demanding safe roads and justice for the victim.

Notre Dame College students took to the streets around 11:15am and blocked the Shapla Chattar in Motijheel. They also threatened to continue the movement until their demands are met.

Some 300-400 students of the college with different placards later proceeded towards Gulistan and blocked the Zero Point, suspending vehicular movement.

At that time, the protesters were chanting different slogans -- "We want justice", "We want safe roads". In the afternoon, the students left roads giving a 48-hour ultimatum to meet their demands.

They also warned of taking to the city streets again from Sunday if their demands are not met by the time.

Besides, the students of Viqarunnisa Noon College expressed solidarity with the movement and staged a demonstration at the capital's Shantinagar intersection.

Students of several other institutions staged protests in Farmgate and Uttara areas.

The protesting students seized a DMP bus for an hour at Farmgate after its driver failed to show his licence.

The DMP bus was on its way from Rajarbagh to Mirpur around 1:30pm when the protesting students intercepted it and asked for the driver’s licence.

Driver Lal Mia said his licence was back at his office and that he had asked one of his colleagues to bring it to him.

The students kept the bus surrounded till 2:30pm and inscribed different protest slogans on it, including one that reads: “Why do the police not have a licence?”

Students also claimed that the police constable misbehaved with them. The accused, however, apologised to the protesters later.

The protesters said they do not want anymore loss of life of any student due to the carelessness of an unlicensed driver.

Rights activists and road safety campaigners blamed the state's inaction for the “procession of deaths” on roads.

Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of Bangladesh Jatri Kalayan Samity, said they have been monitoring road accidents for the last four years. However, the accidents have seen an alarming rise in recent times.

In the wake of scores of deaths on roads, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had issued some directives, including driving-time limitations on drivers of long-haul vehicles, to prevent accidents and casualties.

The procession of deaths on roads will stop if the PM's directives could be implemented immediately, Mozammel added.

He 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 happened after drivers lost control over the steering.

The 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 were to be blamed for the accidents, Mozammel said.

Transport experts said reckless driving and faulty routes were the main cause of so many accidents and deaths in the capital.

Besides, they said most of the drivers are unskilled and drug addicts while majority of the buses and mini-buses are unfit.

Rustom Ali, secretary general of Bangladesh Truck Owners’ Association, said, "There’s no alternative to turning busy highways into four-lane ones in the country.”

Besides, the desperate plying of Mahindro, easy-bikes, auto-rickshaws, Nosimon and Karimon are also responsible for road accidents, he added.

Abu Raihan Mohammad Saleh, joint commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (traffic-north), said various punitive measures are taken against reckless drivers.

Stakeholders said most of the buses are unfit. The buses do not come to a complete halt to pick up passengers. The bus windows are often broken. The seats are broken and shabby and the buses are overcrowded.

According to Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), there are 35,000 buses and minibuses in the country with half of them operating outside Dhaka. Some of them are out of order. Fitness of 18,000 of buses and minibuses are not updated. There are 5,000 unfit buses in the capital.

According to transport owners, half of the drivers in Dhaka are young and drug addicts. Most of them have no legal licences.