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21 March, 2019 08:03:34 AM
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Road safety demands not met in months

Faisal Mahmud and Saugato Bosu, Dhaka
Road safety demands not met in months

The authorities concerned have remained indifferent to implementing the students’ demands for safe roads raised during last July’s countrywide protest against the death of two Shahid Anwar School students on Airport Road. The agitating students had made nine demands to make the increasingly dangerous roads in the country a tad safer. The Independent, however, found that most of those demands were not fully met by the authorities.

After the protest was stymied, the authorities as part of their increased vigilance had Traffic Week, Traffic Fortnight and Traffic Month. Ironically, the traffic division’s curbs on those occasions were limited to imposing fines, and violators of traffic rules were not even awarded trivial jail terms.

The students’ demands at that time included capital punishment for the reckless driver,  withdrawal of comments and a public apology by the then shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan. The government later met some of those demands.

The students’ agitation also forced the government to pass the Road Transport Act, 2018 in September last year with relatively stringent punishment for drivers responsible for road accidents. But one of the main demands that vehicles without fitness certificates should not be allowed on the streets and drivers should not drive without licenses and updated paperwork is yet to be met.

The demands that all inter-city buses must stop and pick up students when they ask and allowing students to pay discounted fares across the country were also not met. The authorities concerned also did not pay heed to the demand that no bus could take excess passengers.

While those demands remain unfulfilled, the agitating students this time made a fresh set of demands. These include freeing the transport sector from political influence and the licenses and necessary documents of bus drivers must be checked at least once a month. The students also demanded that those arrested for fatal road accidents as well as those involved in such incidents should face the maximum punishment. The students also demanded the removal of unfit vehicles and non-licensed drivers from the roads.

They asked for the construction of underpasses, speed breakers, and foot overbridges at all places deemed risky.

 They also asked for proper arrangements for bus stations and the issuance of half pass or separate bus services for students.

They also sought the dismissal of negligent administrative and traffic police personnel.

Activists involved with the transport sector, however, believed that there were little chances of the demands being met.

The argued that Shajahan Khan, who sparked last year’s protest for smirking just hours after the two college students were killed, was appointed to lead a 15-member committee to recommend measures to prevent road accidents and bring discipline in the transport sector.

Talking to The Independent, Ilias Kanchan, chairman of Nirapad Sharak Chai, said it was hard to imagine any fruitful suggestions from the committee led by Shahjahan Khan.

“We didn’t find any active recommendation from the committee.

Besides, the government formed another committee to formulate regulations for the Road Transport Act, 2018, which was quickly passed October.

Though over five months have passed since then, I haven’t found any fruitful steps being taken to formulate the regulations,” he added.

Ilias also said that unless the government took serious steps, the road safety situation will go back to square one.

“The roads and highways of the country are one of the least safe in the world. We need fruitful steps to correct this situation,” he said.

According to data released by Bangladesh Jatri Kollyan Samity, a total of 7,221 people were killed and 15,466 were injured in at least 5,514 road accidents across the country in 2018.  Of the injured, 1,722 people suffered permanent disabilities.

KK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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