Dhaka – Lax implementation of law, reckless driving and poor road conditions have brought notoriety for Bangladesh with high road fatality rate despite the fact that the civic groups have long been asking for safety.
It seems more and more coffins are joining the procession of deaths every day with the authorities paying no heed to the passengers’ safety. A mass protest, which was dealt in an iron fist at one point last year, by the students across Bangladesh seeking safety on roads and highways is forgotten now.
Officials at the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority have long been turning a blind eye to the unabated deaths on the road. More than 7,000 people are getting killed on the roads every year. At least 15,000 victims, who sustain injuries every year are either disabled or become a burden for their families.
Most of the road crash victims are young, active and have ability to contribute to the national economy.
Bangladeshi road fatalities can be compared only with the casualties in Iraq war, where more than 11,000 people were killed in 2003 when the war began.
Asked when Bangladesh will see its highways, roads and streets are discipline, a senior official at the BRTA posed a counter question as to why the other sectors are not disciplined.
He said to restore discipline on the streets there must be a political commitment. “Can I ignore an order if it comes from top of the government,” said the official preferring not to be named. The political will must be there to restore discipline, he added.
It is a common phenomenon that tragedy accompanies the people when they travel during the festival-time. And this year was not an exception. Many families mourned the deaths of their near ones when they were supposed to celebrate the Eid-al-Adha festival during the vacation that ended Sunday.
According to tally by a civic group, which monitored accidents during the last 12 days of vacation, at least 223 people were killed in accidents on road, rail and waterways across Bangladesh.
The Road Safety Foundation said a total of 176 accidents from August 6 to 17, also wounded at least 670 people.
The foundation in a press release statement said on Monday said 146 accidents occurred on roads, where 197 people died and 627 were injured.
It also said the passengers also suffered on their way back home during Eid holidays because of long hours of traffic congestions, mismanagement of the transport sector and extortion.
The foundation observed that a high number of crashes caused because of unfit vehicles, unskilled drivers, driving without rest, and lack of awareness.
Bangladesh must arrest the transport sector mismanagement.