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Are we safe on the roads?

  • Published at 05:28 pm April 20th, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:30 pm April 21st, 2018
Are we safe on the roads?
Rajib is no more.  Although we are sorry now, we will eventually forget him and the thousands of departed souls like him, as a matter of human nature. There have been three similar instances reported after the tragic April 3 incident -- the event which caused the loss of the hand of the deceased in the Dhaka metropolitan area.  Rajib’s accident -- which later led to his untimely death -- happened simply because the bus drivers were racing. Rajib was a mere victim of this recklessness. We may call it an accident, but don’t you think it was an inevitable consequence, considering the driver’s actions?  Recently, after Rajib’s death, Khalid Hasan aka Ridoy, an assistant to the bus driver, also lost his arm following a similar accident in Gopalganj -- the result of a truck driver recklessly overtaking a bus at a dangerous speed. Why do you think the rate of this type of accidents has gone up in our country?  Under the influence Regrettably, drivers nowadays do not treat the passengers as people, simply because they forget about their duties and concept of public transport in their often under-the-influence minds.  The recent uptick in recklessness of bus drivers can primarily be attributed to their use of methamphetamine or some other drug on duty.  Their use of drugs on duty jeopardizes the lives of countless innocent souls, like Rajib, and other victims of road traffic accidents. To that end, there has been a sharp increase in the death toll compared to previous death tolls of road traffic accidents, according to the report published by National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads, and Railways (NCPSRR).   Other major contributing factors responsible for road accidents are psychological and behavioural characteristics of the drivers, excessive speeding, reckless driving, and overtaking. Moreover, reckless bus drivers have contributed the most to road accidents in the metropolitan area -- they are the most common culprits. 
Rajib’s accident -- which later led to his untimely death -- happened simply because the bus drivers were racing
Not just driving recklessly On the other hand, at least 21 women were either raped or gang raped (and some even murdered) on public transport across the country in the last 14 months, according to a report published by Jatri Kalyan Samity. The report goes on to say that nine of the victims were gang raped by drivers and transport workers.  Another garment factory worker was allegedly gang raped on a moving bus near Dhamrai in early April.  According to a study by BRAC, 94% of women using public transport have experienced sexual harassment on the road, physically or verbally.    Cases have been filed in many instances, and some of the culprits were sent to prison, some are in custody, while others managed to obtain bail and are out already, forcing the complainants to withdraw the cases filed against them.  How can we amend the physical, and more importantly, mental trauma of such victims of rape or sexual harassment? Their powerlessness and depression, and the stigma they face in our society, often push them to suicide -- which is another alarming issue in our society.  Moreover, political pressure, threats, rural arbitration, inferiority, and lack of security, as well as social and economic obstructions in many cases abandon the victims to an endless state of misery.  Roam free, do whatever you please       Public buses have become the breeding grounds for eve-teasers and rapists, an absolute threat to women and girls. In many cases, these attempts of committing ruthless crimes go unreported due to a lack of evidence and eye-witness.  As a means of ensuring public safety and protecting women from such crimes, our government should introduce CCTV cameras in all spheres of public transport, and make this mandatory, with the consequence of fines and/or imprisonment on failure to do so.  Help stop violence against women and reckless road traffic accidents. Stand up against these murderers.  Support the introduction of CCTV cameras in the public transports.  Mohshiur Rahman Auvee is an Advocate, Civil and Commercial Mediator, and a consultant, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.