Proper enforcement of road safety directives must

Published at 12:05am on June 15, 2019

Road accidents have taken a heavy toll on human lives at and around Eid-ul-Fitr, with at least 221 people dying and 652 being injured in 185 accidents. A report that the Passenger Rights Protection Council launched on Wednesday says that 22 people died after being hit by trains and four died and 12 became injured in five waterway accidents. The organisation compiled the report based on reports published in national and regional daily newspapers and online news portals in May 30–June 10. Thirteen fell off train roof in the east railway zone and nine fell off train roof in the west zone and they all died.

The road transport and bridges minister said that 25,526 people died and 19,763 became injured in road accidents, as another report that day says, in January 2009–April 2019. This means about 2,500 people died every year on an average in road accidents. But the minister could not say how many cases were filed in this regard. He mentioned technical glitches of vehicles, over-speeding, overtaking and overloading as reasons for accidents and held inefficient drivers responsible. But admission that such a huge number of accidents took place will not resolve the issues. Most of the traffic-related directives have remained unheeded for years, causing many of these accidents. Regular traffic offences, conducted by almost each and everyone, are what have become commonplace almost everywhere. Unfit, modified and rickety buses still dominate the traffic although the High Court in August 2015 asked the authorities to keep all unfit vehicles off the road. A nexus is said to have developed between some government officials and transport operators that has allowed unfit vehicles to be run by unskilled drivers with a culture of impunity. Such disregard for traffic rules has resulted from the fact that a section of traffic officials are indifferent to violation of rules, which is unacceptable. Without considering the solutions which would include bus route franchise and the appointment of trained drivers, road safety cannot be ensured. The minister must be aware that road safety still remains elusive as a uniform traffic management and disciplined public transport system still remain mostly on papers even after the issue was one of the most discussed in 2018.

All the authorities concerned mus realise that the enforcement of rules is a requisite for order in traffic that can ensure the safety of passengers and pedestrians alike. Such enforcement entails demonstrative punishment for offenders, which is very rare.