POST TIME: 28 February, 2020 11:27:28 AM
Haphazard picking and dropping of bus passengers and accidents
Mosharrof Hossain

Haphazard picking and dropping of bus passengers and accidents

There has been an alarming rise in road accidents, in Bangladesh over the past few decades. According to a study conducted by the Accident Research Centre (ARC) 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. Clearly the roads in Bangladesh have become deadly!

Dhaka city is finding it hard to manage its serious traffic congestions. The provision for bus bay can be considered as a measure to improve the overall traffic congestion. Evidently, at most bus stops in Dhaka city there is no provision for bus bays for boarding and alighting passengers. Surprisingly, all are done on the main roads. When one bus stops on a road other vehicles have to wait which leads to congestion, and passengers have to wait on the street for buses which is a serious risk hardly worth taking. Wrongly planned bus stops and absence of bus-bays in particular at busy locations cause accident frequently and the nagging traffic congestion.

At least 2,329 people, including 291 women and 381 children, were killed and 4,361 others were injured in 2,159 road accidents across Bangladesh in the first half of 2019, says a new report.

The report says the road accidents took place on various highways, national, inter-district and regional roads between January 1 and June 30 across the country.

“The death toll from road crashes in the last year increased 8.07 per cent than that of 2018,” Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity said in its annual report.

In Dhaka, buses are the major mode of transport, the choice for the majority of community and are the only means of mobility that is affordable for the urban poor. Despite fixed point of picking up or dropping passengers, unlimited bus stopping time at bus stops, boarding and alighting in the middle of the road traffic congestion is encouraged and safety of the passengers is compromised. There are only five or six bus bays at some traffic points in the city but these are not planned appropriately considering the number of buses going through the bus stops.

In this context a recent study attempts to provide provision of efficient bus bay near bus stops for reducing traffic congestion in Dhaka city with the help of GIS. Mirpur-10 bus stop, Mirpur-1 bus stop, Mohakhali bus stop, Gulshan-1 bus stop and Nilkhet bus stop were considered as case studies. These areas were selected as these are the busiest areas in Dhaka city, haphazard stopping of buses on the streets and blocking traffic stream is very common and there is no provision for boarding and alighting passengers.

It is learnt that most of the buses are being operated as a trip based system, and many drivers resort to rash driving to compensate for time lost in gridlock. The story of majority of the public transport drivers is more or less the same. The daily income of most bus drivers in Dhaka has gone down due to consistent tailback. This is a major factor behind the rise of road accidents in Dhaka.

According to a World Bank analysis, average traffic speed in Dhaka has dropped significantly over the last decades. Congestion in the capital kills about 3.2million working hours every day. Blaming the untrained drivers alone might not be the solution, as 60 per cent of the road accident victims were pedestrians. Many pedestrians have a habit of walking on the streets in a callous manner and also show their hands to a bus in the middle of the road to board, which in turn increases the risk of road accidents. But most of the time, the vehicle driver is blamed for an incident.

Many drivers do not have any license, and the number of such drivers is not decreasing. Their negligence is leading to road accidents. BRTA, for the last three years, has been running a training programme for the implementation of safer roads. Under this initiative, drivers are receiving practical training and licenses are issued only to trained drivers. Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) sources said that the government is planning to implement a project for establishing specific rules and regulations for bus owners and drivers. Under the project, the government will foot the bill for losses, with aims to create a friendly transportation environment for both the drivers and the passengers on the road. Drivers will be free from the additional stress of trying to complete their trip quota. The trip based system and drivers paying daily rent to bus owners are major reasons behind the rising number of road accidents. Drivers pay most of the operating cost, leading to fierce competition among them on the road. Experts have recommended a number of moves to improve the current road safety issues, such as repairing the roads, improving the traffic police control system and ensuring more cooperation between the workers and owners.

The writer is a journalist of

The Independent