The unfortunate case of a 22-year-old college boy who lost his hand in the midst of an insane race between two buses shows just why road safety in Dhaka is one of its greatest development challenges. Rajib Hossain lost his hand after it got stuck between the two buses trying to overtake each other. The sheer disregard for human life that has been illustrated by this incident is neither new nor surprising given the large number of road casualties that take place every day. Rajib's was a disaster waiting to happen. And unless there is a radical change in the way drivers and transport owners conduct their business, it will continue to manifest itself in shocking new forms.
There's a struggle for space going on in Dhaka's streets. In the absence of effective interventions by the authorities, often bus drivers compete with each other scavenging for passengers. Random parking, buses stopping at undesignated spots, overtaking, reckless driving in defiance of traffic rules as well as lack of awareness about responsible road use on the part of drivers, passengers and pedestrians—not to mention, lack of accountability in the traffic police—have created a situation in which casualties are most likely to occur.
It's good to see that the High Court has intervened in Rajib's case, but no amount of help can undo the damage that has been done to him. What we need, therefore, more than anything else, is effective preventive measures by the traffic authorities and their stakeholders in the transportation sector. Dhaka's development means nothing without the safety of those using its roads.