A survey by the Passengers' Welfare Association revealed at least 87 percent of buses and minibuses ply recklessly in violation of traffic rules on the roads of Dhaka, creating chaos. This should not come as a major surprise as another survey from 2015 in 16 districts including Dhaka, also showed that around 72 percent vehicles had no fitness clearance while 16 lakh out of 70 lakh drivers were driving without a licence—this illustrates the glaring failure of the BRTA.
Though mismanagement in the traffic sector has only received particular attention recently because of a number of gruesome accidents, data showed at least 64 people lose their lives and 150 others get injured across the country every day. Between January 1 and April 20, 1,841 people died and 5,477 were injured, out of which 288 were maimed in 1,779 road accidents. In nearly half the cases, those killed were the sole earners in their families.
Whereas drivers are definitely to be blamed for the tragic deaths, the survey found that almost nobody follows traffic rules in general. And while there are relevant rules, not only are they not enforced, but law enforcers and other authorities entrusted to execute them are found too busy extorting instead of maintaining order. Meanwhile, any serious effort to address the issues is repeatedly stifled by influential and politically connected people who have major stakes in the sector.
When thousands of lives are at stake, how long can the authorities turn a blind eye to the anarchic condition of our road sector? We urge the authorities to completely overhaul the sector, if necessary, and address the issues that are creating such suffering for ordinary people, including ousting the outside influence that is preventing a permanent solution.