Why does it need protests?    

Mahmudur Rahman     | Published: August 02, 2018 22:27:13 | Updated: August 03, 2018 21:17:09

It took three young lives and continuous street demonstrations before a directive from the Prime Minister emanated cancelling the route permit of the Jebel-e-Noor bus company. The majority of demonstrators would not have known the deceased who had passed away and the protests was more of a public outpouring of incenses at driving recklessness. There are quite a few of these companies whose drivers break every law in the book from smoking to dangerous driving that private car drivers can name but who escape the gimlet eye of the police.

That what the students are doing can't be supported and is illegal but when fury takes control common sense retires to the shadows. And it is the piqued public that is actually supporting what is happening. This stems from the continuous abandon with which bus and truck drivers get away with accidents. The average annual  21,000 plus  deaths in accidents are never fully probed because next of kin aren't in the mood to file cases or because witnesses would rather not take the trouble to repeatedly make their way to court  paying from their pockets. The situation is worse on the highways that run through more remote areas. Ramshackle vehicles that are probably never properly cleaned or maintained develop various mechanical failures and yet get approval from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.

A special unit is required for strict inspection with tolerable limits for deviation from standards and the fitness certificate must be visibly displayed inside buses for passengers to see. Overloading of passengers have to be limited even if it means refusing entry. Public transport drivers must face mandatory annual tests before they are issued licences after undergoing training at Bangladesh Road Transport's properly equipped test centre. Anyone found driving without a licence (most of the laguna drivers do this) has to be taken to book and the owner, rather the driver fined. Hence route permits containing information and contacts of the owner is to be appropriately displayed.

Side by side 'jaywalking' must be contained either through shaming or through spot fines. This is where students under supervision of the police can be recruited. Roving policemen can weave through traffic and issue tickets to those who have inexplicably broken lane and overtaking discipline. Mobile police must make examples of errant motorcycles that not only violate lane discipline but have no compunction in running their vehicles on pavements. Long haul truck permits must route them through the bypasses rather than enter the city and school and college buses must be given priority during certain hour and odd and even number car curfews imposes.

Action against lawlessness should be prompt and appropriate and the respective ministers should be chastised in moving so slowly that the Prime Minister has to get involved.


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