The deathtraps on our roads | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 02, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 02, 2019

The deathtraps on our roads

Unruly, unfit buses—can we ever get rid of them?

It comes as no surprise that a probe report of a committee formed by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) found 90 percent of Suprobhat Paribahan buses to be operating without the necessary legal papers such as route permits and drivers' licences. The report also found only 13 out of 29 buses of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan possessing the required legal documents. Both the bus companies have come under severe scrutiny because of their role in the deaths of students that gained countrywide attention.

The fact of the matter is that there are numerous other bus companies like the two mentioned above which are being driven by drivers without licences, and which are plying the roads without having conducted fitness tests for the longest time. The deadly combination of unfit buses and reckless driving by untrained, and sometimes underage, drivers poses one of the biggest threats to road safety in the country. But it seems we have learnt nothing even though bus accidents and related fatalities make the news almost every day.

The only reason bus companies such as Suprobhat Paribahan and Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan are being scrutinised is because of the deaths of students that gained national attention. But what are the authorities going to do about the other bus companies which are just as negligent? Why is it that we don't care to think about safety issues until and unless someone gets killed? And soon after public outrage dies down, the authorities seem to forget about these issues, and things go back to business-as-usual. Let's not forget that even after some of these bus companies are suspended, they soon resurface simply by changing their names.

Political patronage of the transport sector has to come to an end. The BRTA, the ministry of road transport and bridges, and the police must work in coordination to enforce the law and ensure the most basic requirements of road safety—no vehicle plying the roads should be able to run without the necessary documents and those behind the wheel must possess a valid driver's licence.

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