The numbers of road accidents and casualties from those during the Eid-ul-Azha vacation have been fewer than those during the Eid-ul-Fitr this year. Against 232 road accidents over a period of 12 days during Eid-ul-Fitr holidays, there were 146 road accidents during the same period between August 6 and 17. The Eid-ul-Fitr accidents claimed 273 lives whereas the number of the dead stood at 197, according to the Road Safety Foundation. By this time, however, more accidents have been reported and the figure of fatalities has crossed the 200 mark. So far as the injured are concerned, the number was 849 during the earlier Eid and this time it is 627.
That the numbers of the dead and injured have been declining should, however, be cold comfort for those who have lost their near and dear ones. In one accident on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway at a spot near Cumilla, an entire family save a child perished. It is also reported that young people -working hands to be precise, many of whom were the sole earning members of their families - are falling victims to the road crashes. The figure of casualties -200 or so deaths and injuries of varying degrees to 627 people - during a festival is nightmarishly high and utterly unacceptable. More concerning is the fact that the trend looks ominous. During the past few days, when people have been on their return journey to their work places, there is an accelerated rate of accidents. It is feared that more lives may be claimed by road accidents this week and the following week. Although there is no specific count, there is a clear pattern of accidents. During the journey home, there were fewer accidents and fewer people lost their lives then. One of the reasons was the long tailback. Even if a driver wanted to, he had little space for rash driving. Now the roads and highways are mostly empty and rash driving is at its worst and hence the frequent accidents.
Chaos reigned supreme during people's journey home with breakdown in schedules both for long route buses and trains. People had to wait long hours -at times 12 to 20 hours - to get on board a bus or train but still they had the satisfaction of enjoying the Eid with their loved ones without major mishaps. If the ordeal on the way home was too discomforting, on the return journey it has been more accident-prone and they had to be in constant fear for their lives. The authorities must take the blame for such a situation. Before Eid, the journeys were in focus and under supervision, monitoring and a level of governance was there.
Now that the festival is over, the laxity in monitoring and supervision has led to carefree driving on the part of drivers. Also, the presence of lackadaisical and unapproved vehicles along with increasing number of motor cycles on roads has made highway driving more hazardous than before. Add to this, the lack of rest for most of the drivers on long routes, the situation becomes fraught with the risk of accidents. The authorities should have taken all these issues into account in order to put in place a strong vigil on roads and highways. Only then such tragedies could be minimised.
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