Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader recently said that road management is not responsible for road accidents as a result of vehicles overtaking one another; rather drivers, passengers and transport management are to blame. We would like to point out two things. First, the minister's comments leave out the role of traffic management which is crucial for road safety. And second, road accidents are a result of overall management which includes road, transport and traffic management.
In fact, the photos published on the front page of this paper on Thursday, including that of a car parked on the pavement, depict the prevailing mindset of drivers and motorcyclists who do not think twice before flouting traffic rules despite a High Court order on the government to bring an end to such practices. This is a result of the lack of proper traffic management.
The death of Rajib Hossain who succumbed to his injuries in the accident caused by two speeding buses, and another such horrific accident in which a bus helper lost his right arm have thrown road safety in the country, or a lack thereof, back into the limelight. There are numerous reasons for such poor road safety such as the near-absence of implementation of the law and letting violators of traffic rules go scot-free. And the enormous influence wielded by bus owners is particularly worrying because it seems almost impossible to bring unruly buses under control. When BRTA announced last year that no public transport would operate under “special services,” transport owners took buses off the streets creating a major crisis.
Along with enforcement of the law and coordination among all entities, such as BRTA and DMP, responsible for overall management, it is essential that some groups with special interests are not allowed to hold the implementers of the law hostage. Road safety is not a privilege; it is a right of every citizen.