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Eid celebration haunted by deaths on highways

  • Published at 07:16 am June 26th, 2018
  • Last updated at 02:04 pm June 27th, 2018
An overnight bus lost control and crashed against a tree in GaibandhaFocus Bangla

For the third consecutive year, more than 200 people die in road accidents during Eid celebrations

Bangladesh is struggling to curb road accidents on highways throughout the country, especially during the Eid-festivities rush. 

Experts and passenger rights activists are blaming the government for failing to prevent casualties caused by road crashes. 

Sources have confirmed that, so far, more than 200 people have lost their lives on the highways from June 10 to June 25 this year.

Accident Research Institute (ARI) records show that 165 people were killed by 106 accidents in 42 districts – between June 9 and June 23 – while 110 people were killed by 86 accidents from June 1 to June 8.

According to the report, of the accidents that took place between June 9 and June 23, 26% were caused by head-on collisions of vehicles, 27% by rear-end collisions and 5% were caused by drivers losing control of their vehicles. In the 25% of the cases, vehicles hit pedestrians on the road.

The remainder of the accidents was caused by other factors such as driver error and use of unfit vehicles.

Interestingly, almost half (48%) of the above-mentioned accidents were caused by busses and trucks—while the rest were caused by smaller vehicles such as: private cars, pick-up trucks, tractors and microbuses.

A report compiled by the passengers' welfare association Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (BJKS), revealed that the death toll caused by road accidents frequently reaches 250 victims during Eid holidays—every year. 

The BJKS report added that a total of 274 people were killed in 13 days during Eid-ul-Fitr holidays last year, and during Eid-ul-Adha the number was 254. 

When approached, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) could not provide any statistical data on road crash deaths during Eid holidays this year.

Also Read- Road accidents kill 37 across Bangladesh

‘Vigilance on highways was lifted after Eid’

A number of experts told the Dhaka Tribune the accidents that took place during last year’s Eid holidays were mostly caused because of the effects of torrential rain and inclement weather on the highways.

There were hopes that the government would implement measures to curb road crashes this year, but no such initiative was witnessed, the experts said.

Addressing the issue, ARI Assistant Professor Kazi Shifun Newaz said: “The patterns suggest that the road crashes this year were primarily caused by reckless seasonal drivers and a sudden increase of three-wheelers and smaller vehicles on highways.

“The drivers also get into accidents ahead of, and after, passing the black spots (accident prone areas) on the roads.”

Newaz continued: “The law enforcing agencies and authorities concerned enforced strict monitoring on highways before Eid, but this vigilance was lifted after Eid celebrations.

“The lack of proper monitoring allowed drivers to act recklessly, leading to a spike in accidents.”

Echoing the same opinion, BJKS Secretary General Mozammel Haque added: “If the government had continued strict monitoring of highways, the road crash death toll after Eid could have been less.” 

Blaming the vehicle owners for sending unfit vehicles on the highways, Mozammel said: “The busses that overturned on the roads indicate that those vehicles were operating without proper maintenance and checkup.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the cabinet meeting gave some direction to the government officials. If the directives are followed and ensure strict monitoring systems of the roads, the death toll could be lessened to half of the current rate,” he added. 

In a recent announcement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the authorities concerned to ensure proper execution of the provision of five-hour driving time of the transport drivers on highways. 

She also recommended proper arrangements for alternate drivers, rest rooms, and service centres, at specific locations along the highways—to avert road accidents.

A BRTA source told the Dhaka Tribune that a meeting was held at its Dhaka office, discussing ways to prevent further road accidents in Rangpur and Gaibandha areas.

Commenting on the issue, BRTA Secretary Shawkat Ali ensured that the government has taken the issue seriously and is looking into the matter.

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