Monday, 23 May, 2022

Roads, level crossings still remain unsafe

‘Procession of deaths’continues on roads and highways and even railway crossings across the country due to lack of traffic discipline.

Road and railway accidents crushes are regular phenomena in the country causing premature deaths and injuries of many people. 

Defying the high court ban, various types of unauthorised small vehicles, including CNG-run auto-rickshaw, human-hauler, three-wheeler Mahindra, three-wheeler easy-bike, locally-made Nosimon, Karimon and vatvoti are still running on different busy highways across the country, resulting in frequent accidents and loss of many lives, transport leaders said.

Within the last 12 hours till Wednesday evening, at least eleven people were killed and scores of others injured in three separate accidents in Nilphamari, Bogura and Barishal districts.

Of them, four female workers were killed and four others injured when a running train hit their battery-run auto-rickshaw at a rail crossing in Nilphamari's Sadar upazila.

At least five people were killed when a passenger bus rammed their auto-rickshaw at Ranirhat crossing of Mirzapur union under Sherpur upazila in Bogura district while two school boys on a motorcycle were killed when a passenger bus hit them in Barishal's Gournadi upazila.

Another student was injured in the incident. He was admitted to Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital.

Last week, three members of a family were killed and two others critically injured in a collision between a passenger bus and a CNG-run auto-rickshaw at Matuail in the capital's Jatrabariarea.

According to Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, at least 7,809 people were killed and 9,039 injured in 5,629 road accidents last year.

Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of the organisation, shared the information at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters' Unity on Friday.

Data shows a rising trend in road crashes in the last few years though the government agencies promised a change and initiated various steps after a major road safety movement in July-August 2018.

According to a police report, a total of 5,088 people were killed in 5,472 road crashes in 2021, which is 30 percent higher than the previous year.

In the capital, at least two people, including a student of Notre Dame College, met their tragic deaths in two separate road accidents in the city’s Arambagh and Panthopath areas recently.  Both the ill-fated persons were crushed under wheels of the DCC-run vehicles.  

Hearing the death news of Notre Dame College student, his fellow students burst into anger and took to the citystreet in protest against the death.

As part of their protest, students from various educational institutions have also staged demonstrations in different areas of the capital, demanding safe road and justice for the student's death in an accident.

Rights activists and road safety campaigners blamed the state's inaction for the ‘procession of death’ on the roads.

MozammelHoque, secretary general of JatriKallayanSamity, said they have been monitoring road accidents for the last four years as such incidents saw an alarming rise recently.

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

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

Mozammel said 34.02 percent accidents occurred due to head-on collisions, 32.72 percent took place as vehicles ran over pedestrians while 13.23 percent happened after drivers lost control over the wheels.

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, he 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 addicted while majority of the buses and mini-buses are unfit.

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

Besides, the desperate plying of Mahindras, Easybikes, auto-rickshaws, Nochimons andKarimons are responsible for road accidents, he added.

Abu RaihanMohhammadSaleh, joint commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (traffic-north), said various punitive measures are taken against reckless drivers. He held both bus drivers and victims responsible for road accidents.

According to BRTC, 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 of these bus and mini buses is not updated. There are five thousand of 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 licenses.