a year ago

Ensuring safe journey through fog

File photo used for representational purpose. (Collected)
File photo used for representational purpose. (Collected)

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Luckily, there have been, till now, no major accidents in the country due to poor visibility caused by dense winter fog this year. Normally these mishaps make night journeys fraught with danger on national and regional highways, river and railway routes. In the past, a number of deadly winter-time road and waterway accidents had made people think twice before embarking on long-distance journeys after dusk and at early dawn. On road journeys especially, the wee hours have emerged as the time ripe for occurrence of mishaps. It's because after staying awake at the wheel for almost the whole night, the drivers become highly exhausted, with many dozing off. Accidents occur in these foggy volatile hours. People can well remember the plunge a few years ago of a passenger-filled bus careening into a river below. Its driver became so confused in his drowsiness that he failed to locate the bridge. When he came to his senses, and tried to take control of the bus, the ill-fated vehicle had broken through the railings and plunged into the river.

Besides head-on collisions of buses, river vessels frequently meet accidents on the fog-shrouded routes. It is sheer luck, and the reportedly increased awareness of the operators which could enable the country to remain free of fog-related accidents this year. Yet upon a visit to the country's major ferry terminals, the conclusion people arrive at is that the winter fog continues to add to ordeals of drivers and passengers. Long tailbacks, like those in the years before, remain a common view at the terminals. Ferries also stuck up in mid-rivers due to poor visibility caused by fog. In instances, several hundred goods-laden trucks are seen ground to a halt at the ferry points.

What the picture of stuck up vehicles boils down to is the delay in the shipment of exports and the missing of export deadlines. It doesn't bode well for the country's trade. In fact, highway or river routes' hazardous state due to fog has lately emerged as a national woe, alongside the deadly road and river accidents claiming hundreds of lives during winter. Rescheduling of the export goods-laden ferries' departure time may not be a solution. The importers on the other end may not be prepared to hear the same old blame on fog for delayed departure of the country's exports. The problem is intricate and warrants timely intervention of the policymakers. Bangladesh needs to work out pragmatic ways of averting inordinately delayed export to its destinations.

The country is located in a fog-prone region. This winter malady covers vast swathes of land in the sub-continent, including Bangladesh. The affected areas normally start from Delhi running through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, to reach up to Bangladesh. A section of weathermen suggest, the deltaic land ought to wait for a change in the weather pattern. According to them, it's a radical change in the global climate behaviour containing a weather phenomenon going in Bangladesh's favour, by default, which carries the key to a lasting solution. This is wishful thinking. Instead of expecting a miraculous development, it ought to strengthen its capability to overcome the fallout from the seasonally disruptive fog in every sector of national life. For example, powerful fog lights on vehicles and vessels can significantly improve visibility and help avert accidents.

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