The tragic death of 21-year-old Fahmida Haque Labannya, a third-year student of computer science and engineering at Brac University, on Thursday in a road accident in the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area has left us speechless. Labannya was on her way to the university on an Uber motorbike, when a covered van reportedly hit the bike and ran her over near the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. The van fled the scene after the accident.
Sadly, we are all too familiar with how the series of actions following Labannya’s death will likely unfold. The police will make statements to the media; there will be momentary outrage over Labannya’s death on social media and in newspapers; some culprits may never even be found; and, most obviously, nothing on our roads will change. Complete lawlessness will continue to prevail and protests and outcry will die down until another young life is cut short simply because we are apparently incapable of bringing a modicum of order on the streets. Never mind the fact that we are a country with middle-income aspirations that cannot even ensure basic road safety in the 21st century.
While the police have detained the bike driver for questioning, it goes without saying that no stone should be left unturned in the police’s efforts to nab the van driver who sped away after running the girl over. But most importantly, as has been said countless times before, there is an urgent need for political willingness to make our roads safe which seems to be sorely missing. It is no wonder that the people of the country remain hostage to the transport sector—which is simply unheard of in other parts of the world. This state of affairs cannot continue. Given the startling statistics related to deaths in road accidents, the lack of concrete action to enforce traffic laws is incomprehensible. That unnatural deaths on our roads are so common is in itself unnatural—and extremely frightening.