Number of road accidents, fatalities and injuries increased ‘significantly’ in 2019 as the government consistently failed to bring order on roads while the families of the victims continue to cry for justice.
Since 1994, the highest number of people was killed in road accidents last year, which was termed as ‘alarming’ by road safety experts.
The number of fatalities increased by 57.03 per cent, injuries by 129.73 per cent and accidents by 58.94 per cent in 2019 compared with the year 2018, as per the statistics of Bangladesh Police.
Despite repeated initiatives taken by the authorities, road safety situation deteriorated.
Some members of families of fatal road accident victims alleged that they wanted justice for their lost ones but failed to get so due to negligence of the authorities and indirect pressure for withdrawing cases.
According to the police, at least 4,138 people were killed and 4,411 injured in 4,147 accidents in 2019, while 2,635 were killed and 1,920 injured in 2,609 accidents in 2018.
Last year, as per the data, highest 2,326 people were killed in district areas followed by 1,438 killed in highway and 374 in metropolitan areas.
The highest number of people was killed in Dhaka Metropolitan Police area — which was 230, followed by 54 in Chattogram Metropolitan Police and 33 in Barishal Metropolitan Police areas.
The authority does not have any more previous recorded statistics, said officials.
At a press conference, held on Tuesday at Bangladesh Crime Reporters’ Association auditorium in the capital, some of the guardians of fatal road accident victims joined forces to express their dissatisfaction over the existing lawlessness that prevails on roads across the country.
The conference was jointly organised by Forum of Guardians of Children and Relatives in Road Accidents and Nirapad Sarak Andolan.
Liza Akter, sister of Md Abid, a Secondary School Certificate examinee who died on January 27 this year when a vehicle of WASA ran over him at Wari, alleged that after first hit his brother was alive but when the reckless driver fatally ran him over by the vehicle for the second time to flee, he died.
A case was filed at Wari police station and the alleged driver was in jail while some people were creating pressure on them to withdrew the case, she alleged.
‘I know I’ll not get back my little brother but I got more frustrated when I heard that the driver got bail from jail within few days,’ said Md Nazim Uddin, elder brother of Md Saiful Islam, 27, who died when a Balaka Paribahan bus fatally hit his motorbike at Joarshahara area on October 31, 2019.
Father of Adnan Tasin who died on February 11 last year at Shewra area in the capital when an Uttara Paribahan bus ran over him, Ahsanullah Tutul, alleged that he asked for justice from the police and even mayors but was yet to get any justice.
At the programme Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh secretary general Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury said that without punishment the accidents would continue.
Following the countrywide student protests for safe roads in 2018, the road law came into effect on November 1, 2019 more than 13 months after its enactment in September 2018.
The government began enforcing the law on November 17 amid countrywide protests by transport workers only to backtrack as transport workers demanded making cases to be filed against drivers bailable, issuing driving licence in a short time with easy conditions and allowing all modified goods-carrying vehicles to operate.
Currently the law enforcing agencies are enforcing the law partially after the government gave time to the transport workers and owners until June 30, 2020 to update driving licences and fitness certificates.
The apex body on road safety — the National Road Safety Council — formed a committee led by the former shipping minister Shajahan Khan, also executive president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation, who submitted 111 recommendations to bring back order on roads and control accidents to the prime minister Sheikh Hasina on April 28 same year.
On October 15 a 33-member taskforce was formed to implement the recommendations and on November 24 the taskforce head, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, formed four sub-committees to submit action plans and recommendations within two months.
BRTA chairman Md Kamrul Ahsan told New Age that as per his observance, carelessness of the drivers and tendency to defy laws were reasons behind fatal accidents.
The authorities were continuing with enforcement activities but what was needed was a coordinated effort to curb fatal road accidents, he added.
Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Environment and Technology director professor Md Mizanur Rahman termed the situation as alarming.
He said that the number of fatalities and accidents were more than the recorded incidents and blamed the culture of not following laws as a major reason behind this situation.
Meanwhile as per ARI, which compiled road accident data based on statistics from the police, newspapers and television channels, at least 4,357 people were killed and 7,226 were injured in 3,936 accidents in 2019 while 4,076 were killed and 8,715 other injured in 3,513 accidents in 2018.
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