After the death of two college students due to a reckless collision between two buses in Dhaka on July 29, 2018, the safe road movement of school-college students was going on across Bangladesh until August 8. No one could create such a stir as the students in Bangladesh before the movement to ensure road safety. Children and teenagers have shown how to protest against anarchy on the road, and how to manage traffic on the road. Road Transport Act 2018 was made immediately after that fruitful movement. Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association has demanded amendment of Sections 84, 85, and 105 of that Act. The government has been forced to accept the demands brought by the owner association under continuous pressure.
Bus owners’ associations and people are not separated from each other. Just as people need to take transportation facilities, bus owners need to earn income in exchange for services. Therefore, there is a special need for the cooperation of both to reduce the anarchy in road transport. Bangladesh’s government is also the first and main partner in reducing this anarchy. The government takes various welfare measures for the convenience of both the transport drivers and the public. Actions and projects taken by the government are sometimes slow and sometimes completed quickly. Many times, the government’s development project book does not include transport communication development projects in underdeveloped districts outside the capital and industrialized cities. Although it has been written many times, many errors and bureaucratic complications remain in the implementation. It can be seen that even after renovating the same road repeatedly, the contractor leaves some work for the next year. As a result, the suffering of the people remains as usual.
Meanwhile, the construction of unplanned flyovers in the city has intensified the crisis in many cases instead of relieving traffic congestion. Sick patients are losing their lives on the road due to severe traffic jams, candidates are not able to enter the examination hall on time, and office officials are suffering from calamity, which is having a severe negative impact on public life.
The thing that most frightens people with the misery of traffic jams is road accidents. Samakal newspaper printed a report citing Jatri Kalyan Samiti on January 23rd of this year, where it is said that 7,809 people were killed and 9,39 injured in 5,629 road accidents in the country last year. In the report of this society in 2020, it is known that 6686 people died in road accidents in 2019. In 2018, the death toll was 7,855. Thus, 43,856 people were killed and 91,358 injured in road accidents in 6 years. This procession of death cannot be reduced in any way.
Factors that can be seen behind the chaos and death rate in road traffic are unnecessary competition, no helmets, no seatbelts, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a helper, disobeying traffic laws, driving vehicles without a license, mechanical faults in vehicles, and excess passengers. And the loading of goods, reckless speed, defects in road construction, non-enforcement of proper traffic laws, etc.
Major accidents occur due to the mentioned reasons, in this case, just as the motor vehicle drivers, managers, and government officials need to have a proper role to pass, passengers can also play a special role. Commuters need to protest in unison when transport drivers compete with other vehicles. Night coaches should have another skilled driver to alternate with the driver. The helper or the contractor driver of the vehicle has to fulfill the duty of keeping alert at all times.
Many times it is seen that the car driver is facing an accident even while trying to save the life of the inattentive wayward pedestrian. Therefore, pedestrians should use overbridges while crossing the highway and should look for cars on the right and left when crossing on normal roads and railways. While crossing the road, the drivers or pedestrians should not keep headphones or mobile phones in their ears, drivers should observe all the rules of zebra crossing and traffic signals.
Accident Research Institute (ARI) study revealed that pedestrians and passengers are 90 percent responsible for road accidents, environmental factors are 10 percent and mechanical faults are 10 percent responsible. According to BRTA, it can be said that currently there are 43 thousand 855 buses and 27 thousand 626 minibuses registered across the country. Among them, 22 thousand 688 buses and 12 thousand 975 minibusses are not fit. A very scary thing is that a major accident can happen at any moment in a car without fitness.
According to transport owners, the number of buses and minibusses plying across the country is around one lakh. But many bus drivers and helpers do not have any training. Various training programs have been undertaken at Ilias Kanchan’s convenor of the Safe Road Movement (NISCHA) initiative. BRTA is providing driving training but the various workshops and training required for transport drivers and helpers after the driving training have not been done. Among the 38 lakh drivers in Bangladesh, there are approximately 50 lakh helpers. These large number of drivers and helpers are providing tireless service to the passengers. Unexpected incidents often occur in regular service and passenger management.
On the 15th of this month, the driver and the helper have been arrested on the charge of killing a passenger by throwing them from the bus and crushing them under the wheels. Arguments with passengers due to demands for an extra fare, molestation of women by bus staff, sometimes rape, etc. are seen in the anarchy of those involved in transport. So humane educational training of drivers and helpers is essential. Along with this, it is possible to reduce transport anarchy by identifying unfit transport, unlicensed drivers, and drug-addicted drivers and bringing them under the law. Just as safe drivers are needed for safe travel, an improved road system is the need of the hour.
The author of this article is a Student of Department of History, University of Chittagong