People’s perspective: A major blow to brand Bangladesh | Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 16, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:15 AM, March 16, 2018

People’s perspective: A major blow to brand Bangladesh

Even a single death due to accident is too many. So the statistics that there have been only two major aviation disasters in Bangladesh in the last 33 years are only of trivial importance. A tragedy in which 51 people died puts countries into a collective bereavement.

In Bangladesh's case, deadly maritime disasters and road accidents have already made us permanently nervous about our waterways and highways. When an accident is first reported, we look back at the last time we took that particular route and what awaits us the next time.

Air travel's prevalence in the country in last 20 years has already made the BS211 tragedy a relatable one. Many of the passengers performed the modern ritual of the Facebook check-in at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and taking a photo of the family or a selfie, before boarding the flight. Then we make that last phone call from inside the aircraft to the near and dear ones who dropped us off at the airport or are waiting for our arrival in the destination.

A more long-lasting consequence of this tragedy could be a deeper mistrust in Bangladeshi brands, products and companies. Boarding an aircraft even for a 30-minute flight is handing over our lives to the pilot, and by extension, the airliner's safety measures that require proper technology and regular maintenance.

There will be more analysis about the condition of the Bombardier that crashed at the Kathmandu airport, and so there should be about US-Bangla's management of the aircraft and the pilot.

If there is a question about whether the pilot was tired, then Bangladesh must know if the pilot and the first officer were of sound physical and mental condition. Did US-Bangla regularly maintain the aircraft's standard before and after a flight? Given what experts have already said, there was negligence, and in any case, most aviation disasters are a combination of human failure and technological error.

Consumers in Bangladesh have long suffered after-purchase problems. Only in 2014 did the Consumers Rights Protection Act 2009 get rules for its operation. The state machinery in charge of this hasn't held too many people accountable. There are many things that can go wrong when we buy vegetable, medicine or an air ticket. There's no proper system in place to question such people to improve the product, which in many cases puts lives in danger every day.

We are unaware of the purity of the water we drink in our homes, for example, and years of ignoring such things have also made us immune to asking questions. Forget about getting proper answers.

Despite being an American-Bangladeshi joint venture, US-Bangla is essentially a local brand, a Bangladeshi product. They are answerable to the public, and with great detail. This is the first major aviation disaster at a time when more people are using airlines like Bangladesh Biman, US-Bangla, Novo Air and Regent Airways for domestic and some international flights.

Competition within these airlines can sometimes make them careless of details, and if it turns out that there were elements of such mindset contributed to this disaster, regulators must come down hard on every airline from this point onward. It would also be helpful to the burgeoning airline industry if their standards are raised.

I think it is safe to say that we can afford a bad meal in a restaurant, a bit of dirt in our water or a dodgy gadget ordered online. But when it comes to a flight, it will be hard to let go of a questionable flight so easily.

The writer is a sports writer for espncricinfo and former reporter of The Daily Star

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