Almost every day we are presented with horrendous reports of more road accidents and more deaths and injuries. And almost every day newer media reports on various facets of road safety continue to inform us as to how poorly this very important sector is administered and managed. At least 7,221 people have died in road accidents across the country in 2018, according to a report by the Bangladesh Passenger Welfare Organisation (BPWO), and a further 15,446 people were injured in a total of 5,514 road crashes throughout the year. The most dreadful aspect of road casualty statistics is that of the unfortunate victims, 12 percent were students. Furthermore, according to BPWO, 68.4 percent of these accidents involves buses and trucks.
It is inconceivable that despite the outcry against the chaos in the transport sector, engendered by the deaths of the two college students last year, no tangible improvement has been noticed. On the contrary we hear shamefaced admission by responsible people in the administration that the bus in question was running without proper route permit or that it was without fitness certificate, and have been without it for the last 10 years. What has the police been doing the last 10 years then? Regrettably, most of the drivers involved in accidents were without proper license, or in some cases the helper was driving the vehicle. It is shocking to learn that the vehicle which killed Abrar was driven by the bus helper, who was ordered by the owner to take the steering-wheel after the driver was handed over to the police, having overrun a female student a few minutes before that.
We have asserted in the past that the owners share equal culpability in the accidents and the deaths and injuries. But often we see them getting away literally with murder. Although the person at the wheels has caused the accident, the owner in many cases are also responsible for it, and must face the court.