Some relief for road crash victims
We are happy to learn that the government has finally settled on a compensation package for road crash victims. According to a report in this daily, the family of someone killed in a road crash will be entitled to at least Tk 5 lakh in compensation if they make a claim, while someone who suffers life-altering injuries can claim Tk 3 lakh. We believe this initiative, if properly implemented, will pave the way for safer roads in the country.
It will also bring some relief to the families who have lost their loved ones to road crashes. In many cases, the victims are their families' sole breadwinners, so their sudden death puts added stress on their grieving family members. In case of the survivors, the compensation can be used to pay their medical bills.
However, there is a question to be raised about whether the amount of the compensation fixed is enough considering the heavy loss suffered. How much is a human life worth? We are also concerned about the amount of time the authorities have taken to finalise this compensation package. It took them more than four years to publish the relevant rules under the Road Transport Act 2018, and another eight months to finalise the compensation package as part of it. We cannot help but wonder if the verification and approval processes for compensation claims are going to be equally time-consuming, which will be unfair. We urge the authorities to make the whole process simple, transparent and hassle-free for the affected families. The BRTA also needs to run a nationwide awareness campaign so that people know about the compensation package and how to claim it, when needed.
At the same time, the government must rethink some of its decisions, such as backtracking on a decision to set a limit to the economic life of buses and trucks, to make our roads safer. Experts have been highlighting for years how unfit vehicles, along with reckless driving, is a major reason behind road crashes. We understand that various stakeholders in the transport sector try to influence these decisions, but the government's priority must be the safety and well-being of citizens. Contradictory rules will only hinder our road safety goal. The government must set policies in such a way that no life is lost unnecessarily, and thus no compensation is needed.