Danger on road guaranteed
The number of road crashes and casualties continues to rise in the country as promises by government bodies to ensure road safety remain unfulfilled, said road safety campaigners.
Moreover, most of the demands raised by students during their unprecedented road safety movement in 2018 have not been met.
In this situation, the country yesterday saw another student agitation in the capital for road safety after the death of Notre Dame College student Nayeem Hasan on Wednesday.
Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, a platform working for passengers' welfare, said most of the rules made after the 2018 movement were not enforced. Road Transport Act was enacted but many sections of the law were not enforced, he said.
As a result, anarchy in the road transport sector prevails and the number of road accidents is increasing, he told The Daily Star last night.
Several thousand students took to the streets in the capital and beyond after two college students were killed by a bus while engaging in an unhealthy race with another bus in the capital on July 29, 2018.
During and after the movement, lawmakers hastily passed the Road Transport Act-2018, the Prime Minister's Office issued a 17-point directive, and police observed "traffic week" multiple times to bring discipline on the roads. For their part, transport leaders also made serious promises of change.
But very little has been done and the picture on the city streets remains almost unchanged. Moreover, road accident across the country saw a sharp rise over the last three years.
At least 2,635 people were killed and 1,920 others injured in 2,629 road crashes in 2018, according to police reports.
But 3,502 were killed and 3,479 others injured in 3,701 road accidents in the first eight months of this year, show the reports.
At least 4,138 lost their lives in 4,147 accidents in 2019, while 4,198 accidents claimed 3,918 lives last year, the report says.
However, different road safety organisations put the number much higher.
DEMANDS NOT MET
One of the nine demands of the 2018 movement was ensuring capital punishment for killing people by reckless driving and such provision should be incorporated in the Road Transport Act.
In September 2018, the parliament passed Road Transport Act with the provision for five-year imprisonment if anybody causes accident by reckless and negligent driving, and kills or injures someone severely.
Many sections of the act are yet to be enforced due to absence of necessary rules and opposition from transport organisations.
Another demand of the movement was to build an underpass near the Ramiz Uddin College in Banani where the accident took on July 29, 2018. The government has built an underpass there, but it is yet to be opened to public.
Students also demanded they be allowed to travel in buses at half fare. They again started demonstrating to press home the same demand after bus fares were recently hiked.
Their other demand was to take buses without fitness clearance and drivers without valid licences off the streets.
But Bangladesh Road Transport Authority in July 2019 told the High Court that 4.79 vehicles were operating without fitness certificates. Besides, there are several lakh drivers without valid licences.
In December that year, a Dhaka court handed down life sentence to two drivers and a helper of two buses of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan over the road accident that killed the two students in the capital's Banani.
But the victim families have to wait for a long time to get justice as the case is still pending with the High Court.