Teen Movement for road safety in Bangladesh Reveal of unprecedented anarchy in transportation sector -By Abdullah Al Imran
Students all around Bangladesh came out to the streets to protest against reckless driving of vehicles, ensure road safety condition demanding the prosecution of culprit driver of Jabal-e-Nur Bus after two students (Abdul Karim Razjib and Dia khanom) of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed and nine others injured of same institution as Jabal-e-Nur bus ploughed through a crowd while competing with another one of the same company for picking up passengers at Uttara airport road in 29thJuly. The agitation was started in airport road at first by the student of Ramiz Uddin but was spread around the country after a comment of shipping Minister Shah Jahan Khan with broad smiling face replying to the question of journalists over the incident where he said, “A road crash has taken 33 lives in India’s Maharastra; but do they talk about it like we do?”
The students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College went down to the airport roads and immediately vandalized the buses after the incident was occurred in 28th July at noon. Student around the country involved in the third day of the incident using several placards writing “we want justice, we don’t need 5g internet we, need safe roads,” etc. Demonstrating students made this protest a key learning for all citizens by making emergency lane for ambulance, arranging vehicles in a disciplined manner, checking the license of vehicles and driver even VIPs including ministers, judges, IGP of Bangladesh police were not out of this checking. School and college students started this agitation that is totally unprecedented type of demonstration in terms of all activities the demonstrators conducted. Protestors had issued nine points demand to the governmentfor ensuring road safety. The nine matters regarding road safety placed by the students are;
Reckless drivers should receive capital punishment and provisions for such punishment should be incorporated into constitution.
Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan must withdraw his statement and apologize to the students
Construction of a foot over bridge or alternative arrangement to ensure safety for student’s movement at the spot of this incident; construction must start within seven days.
Setting up speed baker in every accident prone road.
The government has to take responsibility for the students killed or injured in road accidents.
All intra-city buses must stop and pick up students when they ask.
Students should be allowed to pay discounted fares all parts of the country including Dhaka.
Vehicles must not be allowed on the streets without fitness certificates and drivers must not drive without driving license and updated paper work.
No bus can take excess passengers.
Demonstrators did not stop taking position on the streets despite the assurance by interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Road, Transport and bridge minster Obaydul Kader of fulfilling all of these demands since they observed governments’ hypocrisy regarding ‘Quota Reform Movement’. The after math of this demonstration is to force them to go down from the street and police along with Chatra League fired tear gas, used dangerous weapons to disperse demonstrators where most of the attackers used to wear helmet not to be identified. Hundreds of students including girls, journalists who strived to take pictures of the attack were severely wounded in this attack by these unknown attackers. A prominent photo journalist Shahidul Islam was detained from his apartment and beaten up immediately after giving an interview with Qatar based news channel Al-jazeera regarding the current condition of this movement in charge of delivering provocative and false news about the government to the channel.
There are some certain reasons behind this resolute protest.
According to passenger welfare association (PWA), approximately 4 thousand people have been died in road accident during last six month where 7397 in 2017 and 6055 in 2016. According to world health organization (WHO), about 21 thousand people have been died by road accident in Bangladesh per year. Bangladesh is in 13th position in world and 7th in Asia in the road accident index. There are one thousand vehicles for every one lakh citizens in Bangladesh whereas China has 17 thousands, India has 13 thousands, and Pakistan has five thousands vehicles for one lakh people. Reckless driving, driving by inexperienced one, unfit vehicles, breaching traffic rules, implementation of traffic rules, indifference of transportation authority to ensuring the accurate torment of the culprits, wearing no helmet while driving motor bike, internal corruption of traffic police, picking up more passengers and competition for taking passengers are the main reasons of these deaths by road accidents. There are 34 lacks registered vehicle in Bangladesh where 15 lacks have no license and most of these have not fulfilled required fitness.
Indulgence of Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan to the transportation worker despite conducting incessant accidents is another reason of careless driving of Bus driver since he is the leader of transportation worker. Recently, transportation labors brought up a strike led by Shahjahan Khan claiming release of a truck Mir Hossen Hissen driver who were trialed by high court in accusation of killing a women in Savar by reckless driving. Shahjahan Khan always stands in favor of the transportation labors that act as stimulation for them to do whatever they choose.
Non-stop death by accident through capricious driving, government’s reluctance of not ensuring proper penalty and not implying transportation law led the students to resolute in the street demanding road safety in spite of PM Sheikh Hasina’s urges to them for returning to home.Newly proposed transportation law have been passed in the cabinet but it is still blur how much this law will be applied. Demonstrators could not be assured even after assurance of fulfilling all of their demand as they experienced government’s position to the quota reform movement that is still running but sluggishly for government’s indomitable position to the protestors.
The government strived from the starting period of their governance to make students Awami loving, make antagonists to those who oppose awamy league presenting opposition parties as anti-liberation through excluding the passages related to role of anti-awamy leaders and presenting AL, as the only party of involving in the liberation war of 1971. But the demonstrators whom this Awami league government has faced during its ruling period has made anti-Awami sentiment among the majority of the students except student wing of AL as the government, using police force and Student arm belonging to AL, tried to encumber those demonstrations. Police arrested the protesters and court send for remand, but didn’t arrest those whom were shown in media for severely attacking the protestors using iron stick and other iron weapon like machetes, local weapons.
The mostly talked movement during this government’s period is ‘Quota Reform Movement’ that started in March, 2018. Minimizing quota percentage from 56% to 10% in all government jobs was the main focus point of this movement. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina pledged at parliament to abolish all quota ingovernment job since the students all around the country had come out to the street and blocked all important intersections of the road that made the government clambered. But PM changed her commitment after few days at the same place saying, “It is impossible to reduce 33 percent freedom fighter quota as the high court has an order to uphold this.” And police started to arrest the leaders and activists of the movement and BCL tortured those who tried tot the continue protest again. Such breach of trust and confidence by the government regarding quota reform movement oblige students to distrust the government which helped fuel to spread the ‘Safe-road Movement’ throughout the country even after government promise to comply with the demands of the students frequently. Finally, government used joined force of police and BCL to force them to return at home and stop the movement. Atrocities and outrageous activities of Awami league’s student wing named BCL on the on all kinds of students including Childs and girls were published in social, national and even international media to stop these demonstrations and extreme contempt of people is the aftermath of such atrocities.
The ungracious approaches of the present ruling party is to use student wing and police simultaneously to tackle demonstrations. Such performance done by the BCL to secure their interest has made a negative impression among the students and guardians. The most alarming output of this movement for the Awami League is ‘Generation Gap’ which would be reason for their ‘Political Collapse’ in future.