Last year, as many as 250 people were killed in 187 road accidents in Sylhet, according to date from Bangladesh Police
The number of road accidents on the Sylhet-Dhaka Highway is continuing to rise, with hundreds of casualties reported just on the Sylhet-Bhairab section of the highway alone in the last six months.
Kazi Md Saifun Newaz, assistant professor at the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), highlighted dangerous turns, lack of road markings and feeder roads as key reasons behind the rising number of accidents on the Sylhet-Dhaka Highway.
Besides, drivers not following traffic rules, driving recklessly, carrying passengers or goods beyond capacity, uninformed of road signs, markings and traffic signals, overtaking, allowing their assistants to drive, driving in hazardous environment, driving past exhaustion, driving intoxicated, lacking training and experience have also been identified as major causes behind the regular accidents.
According to local sources, the Rashidpur bend on the Sylhet-Dhaka Highway has now become a death trap as accidents have occurred frequently there. In the latest incident, eight people, including a budding doctor from Sylhet, lost their lives on February 26 in a head-on collision between two coaches of two of the most popular bus services in the country—London Express and Ena Paribahan.
Superintendent of Highway Police (Sylhet Region) Shahid Ullah said: “Most sections of the Sylhet-Dhaka Highway do not have road markings. Moreover, speed breakers are scattered in various places on this highway despite its not having provision for any. Also, police are failing to keep auto-rickshaws out of the highway even with regular fines.”
With regard to drivers often driving without rest, he said, the driver who drives to Dhaka from Sylhet also returns to Sylhet without a break. “Many drivers are falling asleep behind the wheels because they do not rest.”
Moinul Islam, a former driver of Sohag Paribahan and president of the Sylhet Road Transport Owners’ Workers’ Union, said: “There aren’t separate lanes on the Sylhet-Dhaka Highway to facilitate two-way traffic. The road doesn’t have a divider but has traffic from both directions, which is absurd. On top of that, the highway is very narrow. Although the number of vehicles on the road has increased several times compared to the past, the road has not been widened.”
Speaking on the recent accident at Rashidpur, he said the driver of Ena Paribahan not being able to see the London Paribahan bus beyond the Rashidpur bend was what had caused the accident.
Superintendent of Police (Sylhet Range DIG’s office) Zedan Al Musa said overtaking, overloading, over speeding and overconfidence were the main reasons behind the road accidents.
According to the Highway Police (Sylhet region), as many as 89 people were killed in road accidents between Tajpur and Bhairab on the Sylhet-Dhaka highway in the last six months.
According to a study by the non-governmental organization BRAC, the 278km-stretch of the Sylhet-Dhaka highway from Chandipul to Saat Mile has been identified as a road accident-prone area.
Utpal Samanta, supervising engineer of the Roads and Highways Department (RHD), Sylhet, said: “The Sylhet-Dhaka highway is under development and that's why there are no markings in many sections. Road markings are being drawn in all the sections where development work has been completed. The entire road will be marked as soon as the development work is completed.”
According to Bangladesh Police, as many as 250 people were killed in 187 accidents in Sylhet in 2020. In the same year, 6,686 people died in road accidents across the country.