On Saturday morning, a local bus and another vehicle collided head-on on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway at Gazipur, leaving six passengers dead and nine others injured. Then a pick-up van overturned and collided with a bus in the very next morning and at the same place killing four more and injuring 14. It is no fortuitous or coincidence that 10 people should die and 23 sustain injury in road accidents in the same area in a matter of only two days. There are genuine reasons -human error, recklessness or faulty road bend -behind the accidents. What is baffling is that the two accidents hardly drew the media attention they deserved.
Such unwanted deaths have become so frequent that these incidents seldom carry any news value. However, human life is valuable and this value should not be compromised under any circumstances. Despite the high incidence of accidents on roads and highways, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and other regulative or law enforcement bodies have failed to take any concrete measure to deal with the problem. As if, there are no solutions to the horrendous incidents occurring on the roads - leaving citizens dead or paralysed for the rest of their lives.
Recently, the World Bank reported that on an average 21,000 to 22,000 people die every year in Bangladesh. Intriguingly, the Bangladesh government claims that on an average 2,500 to 3,000 people die annually of road accidents in different parts of the country. According to the Accident Research Institute at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) - between 12,000 and 13,000 Bangladeshis are killed in road accidents a year on the country's roads and highways. Apparently, the government has a tendency to decrease such numbers when it comes to the death tolls from road accidents. It surely does not help.
Unfortunately, 80 per cent of the people who annually die in Bangladesh's road accidents are between the ages of five and 45. In most cases, the majority of them have an income and many of them are the sole bread earners for their families. Since many productive people are injured in road accidents, their contributions to the country's economy are missed. Often, the injured people can no longer work after receiving injury. The World Bank once reported that Bangladesh's manpower losses caused by the terrible road accidents amount to 1.6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) - something we need to worry about.
Furthermore, Bangladesh needs to concentrate on numerous efforts for tackling the principal reasons behind road accidents before certain things become ugly. On the other hand, the government simply cannot sidestep this dilemma as something that has no solutions. In Bangladesh, both experts and people at the grassroots level have been speaking about the causes of road accidents. They have also suggested some steps worth taking in order to reduce the occurrence of such road accidents.
Every solution will remain impracticable unless the government is sincere and takes effective measures with the help of its organisations like the BRTA, the Ministry of Communications and the police. It should not be out of place to hope that the next generation will go to any place at any time without any fear of death from road accidents.