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30 January, 2019 11:25:29 AM


Anarchy on roads and highways

In every country highway police are a part of the road safety measure; but in Bangladesh the highway police are rarely seen
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Anarchy on roads and highways

Anarchy on roads and highways in Bangladesh is taking the highest toll. Commuters are being killed every day in roads and highways accidents.

It is estimated that over 10,000 people are killed in road accidents every year in the country. The number is increasing with the passes of time. There scarcely pass a day in a calendar year on which roads and highways accidents do not occur and commuters killed and/or crippled.
Bangladesh is a developing but not a stagnant country. Consequently the roads and highways those connect different parts of the country need expansions and developments to meet the ever increasing and changing demands of time. But to the surprise of all, the governments that sit and drop pay little attention to this. Widespread corruptions have been identified relating to the developments and expansions of this sector. Inter-district connecting roads and highways are not only narrow or insufficiently wide but also are in bad conditions because of their lack of proper maintenances. This causes not only frequent traffic jam in the roads and highways to the loss of time but also murderous accidents. Certainly there should be some one to take the responsibilities of such loss of time, lives and murders. We are afraid no body comes forward to improve on the situation. Everything is going on as they are.
Apart from this, it is a regular and almost everyday feature that lots of people are killed in highway “accidents” in Bangladesh. If we look at the fitness conditions and capabilities of the drivers of the vehicles that move on the highways, one will definitely be convinced that these are not accidents that in the sense of the term it usually means rather intentional murders. It has repeatedly been reported by experts that the vehicles moving on the highways are unfit for plying and similarly those who drives them are less than qualified. Even the novice drives highly overloaded vehicles and loose control to the murder of the unfortunates on highways as if there is none to look after such carelessness.

In a word every day commuters are dying on roads and highways. The reckless driving, unfit vehicles, dilapidated condition of roads and highways and non-enforcement of traffic laws are responsible for loss of so many lives in the country. The negligence and dishonesty on the part of police on duty is also responsible for such road crashes.  Road accidents due to dense fog could have been prevented by the traffic police by carefully controlling the traffic. Several accidents on the Jamuna Bridge could be prevented by closing the road for a few


According to the latest estimate, as has been mentioned above, about 10 thousand people die in road accidents on an average every year while thousands other live in misery with serious disabilities after accidents.

Many affected families go bankrupt. No caring government can ignore this serious problem of road accidents that has become one of the major killers in Bangladesh. As tens of thousands of people in the country travel by road every day, road safety should be a priority these days. But any major effective step is scarcely seen to prevent road accidents and penalise the killer vehicles – their drivers and owners. As higher educational qualification of the driver can ensure safe driving the country’s High Court directed the government to take a few steps to prevent road accidents. The High Court fixed SSC as the minimum educational qualification to get driving licence. Now most of the drivers are illiterate and can hardly read the road signs. The untrained and uneducated drivers not only cause accidents but also cause traffic jam by faulty driving.  

With the passing of time and their demand the numbers of vehicles have increased. Presently, there are over two million vehicles plying across the country. The number has been increasing every day because there is no bar to get road permit for the new vehicles.

With the rising number of vehicles, the new drivers are recruited. These drivers in most of the cases are not well-trained and educated. Some drive the vehicles with fake licence. Such drivers manage the licences by bribing the concerned officials and ply on the roads by bribing the police.

Bangladesh is probably the only country where the highway police is hardly seen patrolling the highways. That means, unfortunately, there is none to catch the defaulting drivers. In every country highway police is a part of the road safety measure; but in Bangladesh the highway police are scarcely seen. Even if they are seen sometimes they move by slow moving vehicles. It has been seen that many roads remain blocked for hours due to traffic jam. The inefficient and dishonest highway police hardly help clear such jam. Sometimes the commuters need several hours more than the required time to reach the destination due to traffic jam.

One of the major causes of road accidents on the highways is lack of road dividers. On the highway without dividers, head-on-collision often takes place. The major accidents on the highways occurred at night when the trucks and buses drive without dimming the head lights. The strong dazzling light causes accidents because the drivers do not clearly see the road or what is in front of them on the roads.  

It will be wrong to say that the administration is not aware of the problem. But it seems that they hardly care to save the lives of the commuters.

It was suggested time and again that the roads and highways should have the dividers. The drivers should be taught the traffic laws and rules. The highway police should be on patrol and honest on all the roads regularly. The speed limit should be strictly enforced by the patrolling traffic police.

In addition, the government should set up trauma centres on the roadside so that the injured commuters could get emergency treatment. Now there is no such facility on the highways of the country. As a result, after accidents the critically injured survivors cannot be treated in time and saved. This is a criminal offence.

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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