Modern death traps

In the aftermath of the tragic death of two students of Jahangirnagar University, Tasnia Ahmed expresses her grave concern about the high incidence of death from road accidents in Bangladesh.

Death is the inevitable truth of life. Human beings are mortal; death is destined for us. But we don’t want our death to be as tragic as dying from road accidents. Every day, we hear numerous news of death around Bangladesh. We are so used to it now that, we don’t dare to care anymore. But the family who lost their loved one and only bread-earner, a wife who has just lost her newly-wed husband or a mother who has lost her child; they know the unbearable pain of their loss. But for us, it has become a part and parcel of our daily life; just a news item which we savour with our morning cup of tea or coffee!

Every year throughout the world 10 lakh people expire through road accidents and 50 lakh people become handicapped. According to a study conducted by the Accident Research Centre of BUET, road accidents claim on average 12,000 lives annually and lead to about 35,000 injuries. According to World Bank Statistics, annual fatality rate from road accidents is found to be 85.6 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles. Thus, the roads have become a death trap for the Bangladeshi’s. We have lost two eminent citizens — film maker Tarek Masud and journalist-cinematographer Mishuk Munir — through a brutal road accident.

mindspeak-accidentYoung or old no one knows if they are going to return home safe and sound after the day’s work. Recently, in fact last month, two students of Jahangirnagar University have been killed as a bus hit a human hauler on the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar. These two youths from marketing and microbiology departments had promising future, but their life cut short, even before it began. Last month, five people were killed and 15 injured as a bus plunged into a roadside ditch on the Feni-Khagrachari road at Mirsarai upazila of Chittagong. According to a survey report of Dhaka Reporter’s Union, in 2016 alone, 4,144 people died and 5,255 people injured because of road accidents. The number is alarming but yet no impactful measures have been taken to reduce the mishaps.

What can be the possible reasons for such high number of road accidents? Narrow roads with no dividers, reckless uneducated drivers, the old method of traffic management, awareness regarding safety on roads, lack of other modes of transport such as railway, riverway; most importantly the lack of implementation of laws. Also, according to my observation, I have seen many youngsters crossing roads listening to loud music on earphone which doesn’t let them hear the honks. Also, the unwillingness of using foot over bridge to save time! Many people don’t follow the cross walk sign. They run suddenly in the middle of nowhere, the drivers gets confused and ran over them. It is not always the drivers fault but also the commuters and pedestrians faults too. These may seem very negligible issues, but these little things cost them for the lifetime. The injured people endure trauma throughout their lives.

In a BUET research report it has been found that in Bangladesh, the ratio of accidents and number of transports is numerously high compared to other countries of the world. In USA, every 10,000 cars cause the death of 2 people! Seems unrealistic right, but this is the truth. They drive cars following the rules, no unlicensed drivers; moreover their traffic polices are not corrupted, rather trained. A high penalty is fined if anyone breaks the traffic rules. Now, let’s see the scenario of the South-Asian countries. In Pakistan, 19 people and in India 25 people die of 10,000 cars on streets. But, in Bangladesh 60 people die per 10,000 cars, the statistics is alarming! Every 1,000 people in Bangladesh have only 2 cars compared to 9 cars in Nepal, 12 cars in India and 14 cars in Pakistan. But, the most accidents occur in Bangladesh!

There is a saying which states that ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ It is high time we prevent such mishaps which has become our part of life. Sometimes, our government does take measures to help the family of the deceased but not always. Can they heal the unbearable pain of their families? We have seen government officials blaming each other that the problem is of roads and highways; others say the problem occurs due to poor traffic management. Can we not stop the blame game? It is high time we do and take serious measures in every possible way to eradicate this deadly death trap. Depending on only government will not work, private and multi-national organization, NGO’s, people from all spheres of life through collaboration should work on reducing road accidents. We can raise awareness starting from different schools, universities, garments factories, bus/car drivers, etc.

Accidents are something we cannot stop, but we can try our level best to reduce it. Bangladesh is a small country with immense potential with a large population; people are one of the major resources of the country. If we cannot provide safety to the citizens of our country, we cannot be successful as a nation. Be alert, be safe!


Tasnia Ahmed is a student of Independent University, Bangladesh


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