The transportation sector needs to be held accountable
Imagine you are standing on a walkway in Dhaka and texting your friend when, suddenly, a public bus hits you. Isn’t that terrifying?
Why do we have to live with such a reality? A reality where a person’s worst nightmare on the streets has become a part of their daily life.
Not only in Dhaka, but all over Bangladesh, public transport continues to endanger us in a myriad ways.
How did this happen? The primary reason is the recklessness shown by public transport drivers. Road accidents have become all too common, and people are losing their lives daily.
There are thousands of movements and press conferences against the reckless bus driving, but still, no one is listening to the will of the people. Why does this kind of incident occur? It feels as if the road transport owners and workers hold a powerful position in society.
Section 279 of the Penal Code, 1860 states that whoever drives any vehicle, or rides on any public way in a manner which is rash or negligent that endangers human life, or is likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment or with fine.
Again, Section 304A says: “Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent acts not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment … which may extend to five years or with fine, or with both.”
At the same time, Section 304B provides that “whoever causes the death of any person by rash or negligent driving of any vehicle or riding on any public way not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
On the other hand, Section 143 of The Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983 provides that “Whoever drives a motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances of the case including the nature, condition and use of the place where the vehicle is driven and the amount of traffic which actually is at the time or which might reasonably be expected to be in the place, shall be punishable on a first conviction for the offense with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to Tk500, and his driving license shall be suspended for a specified period, and for a subsequent offense if committed within three years of the commission of a previous similar offense with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to Tk1,000, or with both, and his driving license shall be suspended for a period not exceeding one month.”
These laws highlight why the murderers always escape from the laws. Because of the softness of the laws, the murderers get away with this every time. It is high time we amend the laws and make them so that the punishment becomes death penalty.
Thousands of road accidents take place all over Bangladesh, and yet the law enforcement agencies remain negligent. I believe their carelessness is the main reason behind this reckless behaviour of the transportation workers.
If we take a closer look, we will find that, from unit level to national level, everywhere, these transport workers and owners are people who are involved in politics. The transport sector is one of the most common areas for politicians to invest in.
Moreover, there are a number of associations of transport owners which are making their ground more secure for them. Along with the politicians, they maintain a strong syndicate, so that they can easily show their muscle power.
The transport workers’ union is stronger than any other workers’ union.
As such, if you ever get into trouble with transport workers in areas like Gabtoli, Mohakhali, Saidabad, Gulistan, and Satrasta, they can make your life very miserable.
No wonder that, most of the time, the victims do not really get justice. Due to their powerful positions, the owners as well as the workers always try to settle outside of court. Sometimes, the settlement is done forcefully. The law enforcement agencies also take part in the settlement and grab a good amount in bribes.
Recently, the incident that took place in Dhaka where three college students died, the bus owner declared only Tk500,000 as compensation.
Our right to live safely is being violated, but still, no one is paying attention from the government’s side. The whole country has become helpless because of these transport workers and owners.
The careless attitude of the transportation workers is taking away the lives of our near and dear ones. It is high time we took a stand against this cruelty.
Nafiul Alam Shupto is a student of law.