8 killed as truck, auto collide in Mymensingh
Ten-year-old Kakoli Akhtar was stunned and absolutely silent after she was told that her entire family had been wiped out in a road crash in Mymensingh yesterday.
"She is not talking … ,” said Ziaur Rahman, Kakoli's uncle.
Her father Kajal Fakir, 35, was taking her mother Shirina Akhtar, 30, to Mymensingh Medical College Hospital to see a doctor.
Shirina had jaundice.
With them were their four-year-old son Tuhin and six-year-old son Tahsin and Shirina's brother Ujjol Miah, 22.
They all died when the CNG-run auto-rickshaw they were travelling in was involved in a head-on collision with a truck on Mymensingh-Netrakona road.
Passenger Ashraful Islam, 28, another unidentified passenger and auto-rickshaw driver Saidul Islam, 35, also lost their lives.
"All eight people were crushed to death on the spot when the truck heading for Netrakona collided head on with the CNG-run auto-rickshaw around 11:45am at Gachhtola area in Mymensingh," said Mohammad Ali Sheikh, officer-in-charge (investigation) of Mymensingh Police Station.
Kajal, an auto-rickshaw driver in the capital, went to his village home a few days ago to harvest paddy, said Ziaur, his cousin.
Second-grader Kakoli is now the only living member of the family and relatives can't find ways to console her.
She was left behind on the trip because she had school.
Ziaur blamed reckless driving for the tragedy.
Talking to this correspondent, transport leaders and workers, however, pointed fingers at reckless driving and plying of unlicensed CNG-run auto-rickshaws on Mymensingh-Netrakona road.
They alleged that law enforcement agencies knew very well about the illegal activity but cared little.
"Hundreds of CNG-run auto-rickshaws have been plying the road for years but there is no control," said Bikash Sarker, secretary of Mymensingh District Transport Owners' Association.
Most of the auto-rickshaws have no documents, he said.
The vehicles are meant as private transport but they ply on the road as public transport without proper documentation, he alleged.
Some 400 auto-rickshaws from different destinations of Netrakona run on Mymensingh-Netrakona road without proper monitoring of the authorities concerned, Bikash said.
Sources preferring not to be named also alleged that there was “nexus” between the auto-rickshaw owners and the traffic police.
"We urged the administration on several occasions to take action against the illegal auto-rickshaws but no action had been taken," said a transport leader.
Shahidul Azam, assistant director of local Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) said auto-rickshaws were not banned on Mymensingh-Netrakona road.
But he admitted that most of the auto-rickshaws were not registered.
"The auto-rickshaw owners run their business from Shambhuganj area, occupying government land that creates regular traffic congestion in the area," said the official.
“We discussed about the illegal running of the CNG's at regional transport committee meetings on various occasions and we will launch mobile court drives against them immediately,” the official added.
Syed Mahbubur Rahman, traffic inspector of Mymensingh, said, "There were a small number of unregistered CNG-run auto-rickshaws. We conduct drives on regular basis to seize them."
He denied any nexus between traffic police and the CNG-run auto-rickshaw owners.
Soon after the accident yesterday, locals blocked the road for an hour, disrupting traffic. Later, police brought the situation under control.
Kamrul Islam, OC of Mymensingh Police Station, said they sent the bodies for autopsies and seized the truck but the driver, however, fled the scene.
The government in July last year banned CNG-run auto-rickshaws and other slow-moving vehicles on several highways of the country since they pose a risk of accidents on roads where heavy vehicles travel at speed.
Yesterday, three more people were killed and five others were injured on the roads of Sylhet, Mymensingh and Chittagong.