THE road transport sector continues to remain chaotic in the absence of effective measures to rein in the disorder, adding to risks of fatal accidents and adding to the sufferings of people. An alarming number of traffic accidents and consequent fatalities and injuries continue in the marked absence of control over and mismanagement in the sector. Police statistics based on first information reports say, as New Age reported on Thursday, 2,211 people died and 2,113 became injured in 2,291 accidents this year till July. A Road Safety Foundation report says that at least 304 people died and 492 became wounded in 273 traffic accidents only in September. Earlier statistics show that at least 4,138 people died and 4,411 became injured in 4,147 accidents in 2019, which shows a worrying increase in the number of death and injuries compared with what happened in 2018. Although the government has repeatedly talked about plans to improve the situation by disciplining the road regime through an effective enforcement of laws, the present situation speaks of only failures.
Rash driving and a fierce competition among city service buses that often pick up and drop off passengers in the middle of busy roads have been held primarily responsible for the chaos that rules the road. Coupled with this is the encroachment on road space and footpaths that makes space for kitchen markets, makeshift shops and even the erection of illegal structures that contribute to the problem by a large measure. A lax enforcement of laws that deal with the roads and what run on them largely appears to blame, putting out a call for the required political will to improve on the situation at the institutional level. The most important device to stop chaos on the road is the law that is mostly inadequately enforced. The Road Transport Act 2018 was passed in September 2018 in the wake of a countrywide road safety protests, spearheaded largely by students after two college students had died in a road accident in July that year. The law was put into force, in a relaxed manner though, in November 2019, more than 13 months after the passage of the law, but without the rules required to effectively implement the law. Efforts have been made since the enactment of the law, but the rules are yet to be worked out. It is feared that the roads would continue to plunge further into chaos if the law continues to be partially or ineffectively enforced.
The government should realise that the more time it takes to work out the rules required to properly enforce the Road Transport Act 2018, the longer the chaos will remain. The government must, therefore, shore up the issues, drawing up the rules immediately and in earnest. The government and the authorities concerned must cross past the hurdles that hold back the enforcement of the law. Unless the government so does, the ritual observance of National Road Safety Day will continue to ring hollow.
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