RECKLESS driving killed two more young lives in Dhaka. Two students of Shaheed Ramij Uddin Cantonment College, as reported in New Age on Monday, were killed and 12 other students were injured in a road accident on Sunday. Witnesses account said that the vehicles raced against each other on the flyover near airport road and one of them got down the ramp first, the other bus sped past it and ploughed into the passengers waiting at the bus stop. Immediately after that, a boy was seen hanging between the bus, the tree and the wall while two other students were seen lying on the ground, bleeding profusely. Enraged at such tragic death, fellow students and local residents took to street immediately, burnt down the buses involved and blocked the Airport road. The whole nation stood still in grief, as this is not the first such death in the country. In April, a Titumir college student lost his hand after it got stuck between two speeding buses trying to overtake each other in the capital. He later succumbed to his injuries. It goes without saying that all authorities concerned have allowed the roads in the country to remain a death trap for its citizen, their prolonged indifference towards the cause is nothing short of negligent homicide.
When it was expected that the concerned cabinet members would stand in grief with the students community, the shipping minister’s sarcastic, irresponsible remark rubbed salt into the wound of the grieving family. In a media interaction, the shipping minister and the executive president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation trivialised the tragic deaths by trying to imply that media attention is disproportionate, as people in India don’t make such noise even though 16 people are killed every hour there. Earlier in 2011, he made similar irresponsible remark in which he suggested that anyone able to distinguish between ‘cows and goats on the road’ could hold a driving licence. After the death of Titumir college student, the roads, highway and bridges minister similarly made remarks blaming the victim and passengers for their ‘carelessness’, instead of paying attention to the glaring traffic rules violation of transport operators. Therefore, ministers in question not only lost ethical legitimacy to govern by trivilising issues of traffic safety, their comments also shockingly legitimised unskilled, reckless driving at the cost of the lives of innocent citizens.
According to the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways, at least 2,471 people were killed and 5,975 injured in 2,353 road accidents across the country in the first six months of 2018. This statistics paints a really grim picture of our traffic safety situation and does not leave room for any denial on government’s part. The ministers concerned must immediately abandon their denial strategy, own up to the problem and take the crisis in transport sector seriously. Society at large must continue to raise question about the way shipping minister holding executive position of transport workers federation are compromising passengers’ safety.
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