ROAD safety still remains elusive as a proper traffic management and a disciplined public transport system still remain mostly on papers even after the issue had been high in conversation in 2018. Two female apparel workers died as a recklessly-driven but had hit them at Malibagh Chowdhurypara in Dhaka on Tuesday. Local people vandalised more than 100 vehicles and set four buses on fire; traffic had been blocked for about four hours. The police, as New reported on Wednesday, arrested the bus driver, who had a learner driving licence, which is a culpable offence.
Because of lack of traffic law enforcement, most of the traffic-related directives have remained unheeded for years, resulting in road accidents. Regular traffic offences, conducted by almost all, are what have become commonplace in almost all the cities. Unfit, modified and rickety buses and minibuses still dominate the road despite a High Court of August 2015 that asked authorities to keep all unfit vehicles off the roads. Wrong-way driving, illegal parking and motorcycle running on footpaths are still going on I breaches of traffic rules and court directives. Because of the evil manipulation by some transport-sector leaders, a nexus has developed among government officials and transport operators allowing movement of unfit vehicles by reckless and unskilled drivers with a culture of impunity. The roads are yet to become pedestrian-friendly and bus drivers are still reckless, showing the same zeal for competitiveness to get more passengers. Such disregard for traffic rules has resulted from the fact that a section of traffic officials are indifferent to the violation of rules which is unacceptable. The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority in August 2018 relaxed the rules in the issuance of driving licences in ‘public interest’. Training facilities for drivers are still poor while transport owners are yet to practise the appointment system for drivers. Without considering the solutions which would include bus route franchise and the appointment of trained drivers, safety on roads cannot be assured and nothing will be sustainable.
What needs to be pointed out now is that there needs to be a coordinated effort among different agencies involved in traffic management, which seems to be missing. According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority data, prepared based on first information reports of the police, till September 2018 a total of 1,853 people were killed in road accidents while 2,513 people were killed and 1,898 injured in 2,562 accidents in 2017. The authorities concerned need to realise that enforcement of rules is a prime requisite for bringing order in traffic and, thus, ensuring safety of passengers and pedestrians alike. Such enforcement entails demonstrative punishment for offenders, which is very rare.
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