IN THE face of an alarming increase in fatal accidents on the roads and highways, the government has taken a number of steps to streamline the public transport sector rigged with corruption and irregularities. The death of a student of Government Titumir College in traffic accident incited public anguish and stirred a debate on the failure of the authorities to ensure road safety. He was grievously injured as he lost his right hand stuck between two speeding buses. He did not survive and after his death, the High Court asked the bus owners to compensate his family and later also directed the Accident Research Institute to assess the liability of bus owners for the death. The ARI accordingly submitted its report, with long- and short-term recommendations to improve traffic safety in the capital. The short-term recommendation included a ban on hiring drivers on a daily basis, as it increases the possibility of hiring unskilled bus drivers, and sought transport companies to hire drivers on a monthly basis. As road accidents continue to kill people, the authorities concerned must take the recommendations seriously ignoring the pressure of transport owners and workers’ associations.
The ARI liability assessment reveals that the during the accident, a bus of the Sajan Paribahan hit a standing BRTC bus from rear and the student, who was standing on the footboard of the BRTC’ double decker was knocked down on the road. The Sajan Paribahan bus had blocked the door of the BRTC bus to ensure that no passenger could get into the BRTC bus. It is the competition between two buses of the same company earlier in July that took lives of college students near Airport Road that later turned into a major road safety movement. The informal mode to recruit bus drivers and the contractual daily payment for drivers and helpers were listed as a reason that kept this competitive and risky system alive. The contract system allows owners to take a fixed amount from the daily income of a bus while the staff get the rest, big or small. This system leaves drivers under additional pressure to get as many passengers as possible by beating other buses in the race on the same route and taking passengers from everywhere. To do away with this system, the ARI recommends the introduction of a bus route franchise system to bring bus companies with valid permit running on a route under a single company, a recommendation that the government should implement expeditiously.
Under the circumstances, all the authorities concerned must take measures to implement the elaborate recommendations that the ARI made, including a ban on hiring drivers on a daily basis and implementing a bus route franchise system to prevent further death in road accidents.
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