Despite the massive student protest for safe roads, followed by numerous assurances from the authorities that the government will strictly ensure road safety, the number of deaths and injuries on roads and highways during the Eid holidays indicates that nothing has, in fact, changed.
As this newspaper reported, at least 31 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in road accidents during the three-day Eid holiday, while six others were killed in a single road crash the day after. On the following day, at least 15 people were again killed and 20 injured as a bus collided head-on with a human hauler on the Natore-Pabna highway in Baraigram Upazila, even though human haulers are banned from plying the highways.
Yet, if we look at the reports, many of the accidents somehow involved three-wheelers and other slow-moving vehicles that are banned from highways. Also, many of the vehicles involved were found to lack necessary paperwork, while some were also being driven by underage drivers. The fact that this has been the case is again indicative of the lack of enforcement of the most basic rules and regulations on highways, and how such failures by the authorities continue to cost the nation dearly. And the reason why this is particularly concerning is because it shows that most of the promises made by government officials following the demands for safer roads were, in fact, hollow. And although probe committees have been set up after many of the major accidents to investigate the causes of accidents, which too have been well established, most of their recommendations still remain largely ignored. What is the point of having such probe committees if their recommendations are going to be ignored?
Every year, we see countless lives being needlessly lost because of such apathy from the government. According to Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, 7,397 people were killed and 16,193 injured in road crashes last year. How many more precious lives have to be lost before we see major action being taken? Why is it so hard to enforce the existing rules and regulations and punish the violators?