Almost every day we are bombarded with reports of grisly road mishaps, deaths and injuries. Scrutinising the way road accidents take place in Bangladesh, one can say that most of the road safety measures taken over the last few years have gone in vein. The expected road safety in the country is still a distant dream as the procession of death on the country’s roads and highways is continuing unabated. Though too many lives are being lost on roads every day, the reasons for the accidents are not being investigated with due importance.
Every time the gravity of road safety issues gets intensified when any student dies of road accident. Thousands of students took to the streets demanding safe roads and seeking justice for the killing of two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College on July 29, 2018. It needs to be mentioned that a mad race between two buses claimed these two innocent lives.
However, protesters blocking roads and seeking the highest punishment of the perpetrators have become very common repercussions of any gruesome road accident. After every incident of road crash we hear pledges from the BRTA, police, and other transport authorities of taking effective measures. But the issue falls into oblivion within a few days which is why the procession of deaths on the roads never stops.
Experts are of the opinion that unfit vehicles, unskilled drivers and reckless driving are the main reasons behind road mishaps. Despite repeated assurances from the authorities to take strict action against reckless drivers and unfit vehicles, accidents are continuing at an alarming rate. It is obligatory for a vehicle to go through annual fitness check-up every year and renew its fitness certificate to ply the roads legally whereas almost 5 million unfit vehicles are running without fitness certificates.
There is no denying that Bangladesh Roads and Transport Authority (BRTA) conducts drive against unfit vehicles, but the presence of such vehicles on the road exposes the inefficacy of BRTA mobile team. BRTA should think about the effectiveness of its drive against unfit vehicles and find out a new method to capture them. Mobile team of BRTA mobile should go after unfit vehicles on a regular basis.
Also, relevant authorities should devise necessary initiatives to frequently audit vehicular standards and fitness requirements by a specialised government cell with intensified traffic regulations.
Experts blame unskilled drivers as one of the core reasons behind the increasing number of road accidents. It is perturbing to note that many bus owners recruit drivers considering personal relationship and recommendations of known people without properly examining their driving skill. What is more disconcerting is that a number of unscrupulous BRTA officials provide licence to the unskilled drivers and fitness certificates to the unfit vehicles without taking any test. As a result, a huge number of unskilled drivers get chance to ply their vehicles on roads illegally. As long as the practice of giving license to the unskilled drivers and unfit vehicles is not stopped, the grisly procession of deaths on the roads would continue unabated.
When the authorities concerned cannot maintain integrity in terms of giving certificates to drivers and vehicles, it is not pragmatic indeed to expect those drivers who buy licence through unfair means will maintain discipline on the roads. To this end, a strong monitoring body equipped with modern technology and adequate manpower should be devised immediately. What we all want now is to see severe steps taken by the authorities concerned to punish those responsible for these deaths.
Authorities concerned should take immediate measures to improve the current road safety issues, such as examining driver’s skill and vehicle fitness, discouraging reckless driving, improving the traffic police control system and ensuring more cooperation between the drivers and owners. Also, transport owners should scrutinise the driving skill of the drivers before recruiting.
In order to ensure road safety for all, the design and quality of the roads and highways must be improved; unfit vehicles should not be allowed on the roads and there should be mass awareness on traffic rules. So many lives are being lost on our roads every day, and it’s time the government put all-out efforts to bring some order on the road. We must take stern actions against reckless driving. Also, unskilled drivers of vehicles, most often not having a legal licence, should be identified and punished.
We hope that authorities concerned will take more severe steps in ensuring punishment of the drivers who do not follow the traffic rules. In order to maintain discipline on roads, the idea of Black Box can play an effective role. It will not cost more than Tk 10 thousand but will definitely help monitor vehicular speed and other movements.
Last but not least, there is a need to set up an adequate number of CCTV cameras which will help in investigation of accidents in
Sayeed Hossain Shuvro is working as Editorial Assistant at Bangladesh Post.