Sunday, October 31, 2010
Bangladesh has one of the most dangerous roads. Lately, we have seen a number of agonising incidents due to road accidents. In recent times, death in road accident has become a common phenomenon.The BUET studies revealed high road accident fatality rate in Bangladesh indicating more than 100 deaths per 10,000 vehicles. Every day around eight persons die in road accidents.
According to the Accident Monitoring Cell of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and Dhaka Metropolitan Police in 2009 recorded 3,381 road accidents across the country that caused 2,958 deaths and 2,223 serious injuries. In 2008, the number of accidents was 4,427 with 3,765 deaths and 2,720 grievous injuries.Although statistics spell out the length and breadth of the problem, they do not adequately reflect the human trauma that results from road traffic injuries. It is a particularly violent way to go, and family and friends have to struggle with shock, disbelief, anguish and even anger.
According to National Institute of Traumatology, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation (NITOR), about one fifth of the injury-related admissions in Bangladesh hospitals are due to traffic accidents. About 15 percent disabilities are caused by these accidents.Road accidents kill and injure people who are young and productive, and can mean a one-way ticket to poverty for many families. Apart from the loss of productivity, in some countries road victims take up more than half of the surgical and trauma beds in hospitals. In developing countries like Bangladesh, the economic loss is equal to two percent of GDP roughly equal to the total foreign aid received in a given fiscal year
Probably nowhere else in the world bus drivers enjoy such unbridled freedom to pick up and drop off passengers, as they do in Bangladesh -- especially in Dhaka city.Another long-term solution is to allow just one bus operator in a particular route because several operators in one route indulge in hazardous competition for making money with as many trips as possible.
Buet. ASM Zakaria Islam, data specialist of the Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, earlier told us that at least 54 per cent of road accident victims were pedestrians.Prof Md Shamsul Hoque, director of Accident Research Institute said on average, 380 people die in the capital every year in accidents, and buses, particularly minibuses, are responsible for that.Of the casualties, 75 percent are pedestrians , Pedestrians are often seen crossing the streets at places they are not supposed to while talking to each other or on mobile phones oblivious to things around them. Some seem to be unaware of the doctrine "Don't run across the road".Existing traffic signals are not pedestrian-friendly at all, according to those who research in the transport sector. Physically disabled, elderly people and children have no alternative but to use the footbridges.
Readymade garments workers, rickshaw pullers and other low-income labourers mostly live in Kamrangirchar, Lalbagh, Badda, Santarkul and Beraid on the city's west and east fringes.
On the other hand, city roads stretch in the north-south direction.Movement of most of the 20 lakh RMG workers on foot is directly conflicting with the motor veacale Long-term solution to hazards of transport service seekers is to develop a planned public transport system with Bus Rapid Transit,
primary and secondary schools are not supposed to be set up on the main roads and at intersection. Schools must be community-based within a zoning system. It is a worldwide practice to have Lollypop Traffic Warden to control road safety of the students of those schools that are situated on busy avenue during school and break-up hours.
Drivers allege that owners fail to carry out maintenance work on their buses. Most local buses are old, dilapidated and have no fitness certificate. Their worn-out interiors and dented exteriors tell a sorry tale. At Mohammadpur and Dhaka Zoo bus stations, this correspondent checked the tyres of a dozen buses and found that all were worn out with barely any tread.Import of poor quality buses, use of locally made spare parts and random tampering with vehicle mechanisms contribute to the increasing number of run-down and unfit vehicles on the city streets, transport sector leaders said.Bus owners always tamper vehicles with local technology to draw maximum benefit. The vehicle is operated even after the expiry of its economic life through overhauling and changes of their exterior and interior.Zakaria Jalal Sohel, president of the Dhupkhola Bus Owners' Association, said that the rising costs of spare parts and persistent daily traffic jams have seriously affected their business.He said, "We cannot conduct maintenance work because our earnings have dropped drastically. Our timetable for a single trip to Dhupkhola is one hour and twenty minutes but it can easily take up to three hours."
Abdul Majid is the organising secretary of the road transport workers association in Mohammadpur. He said Most bus drivers work 18 hour shifts and will freely admit that extreme fatigue often takes over and disrupts their judgment. After years of hardship, older drivers frequently develop problems with their sight, along with various other illnesses.Local bus drivers are extremely poor, and that they feel powerless and frustrated by the vicious cycle of poverty. He said these feelings often lead to drug addiction
"It is not understandable how such old vehicles ply the streets in presence of BRTA and traffic police," The situation will never improve with the corrupt cartel active in the transport sector, A top police official from the traffic division, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the number of fake licences has significantly increased due to corruption at the BRTA office. "At first I tried to get a driver's licence from the BRTA office in Mirpur but they asked for Tk 10,000 which I could not afford." A fake licence cost him just Tk 300.
According to section 47 of Bangladesh Motor Vehicle Rules-1984, BRTA inspectors are authorised to check complete mechanism of a vehicle, which includes functions of 83 points.
Most important of them are checking smoke emission, power transmission from engine, operation of brake, lighting, wheel alignment, steering, mirrors and the condition of chassis.
A top official from BRTA, on condition of anonymity, said, “It is impossible for BRTA to check 83 points of a vehicle manually as there are only 10 motor vehicle inspectors in Dhaka city. So only the most important areas or sometimes only the exterior is checked overlooking the others.”Besides, the BRTA has only two magistrates to carry out mobile court operation. During the drives owners take unfit buses off the road and they return to the streets right after the drive is over.“When unfit buses are caught the owners sign an undertaking saying that they will send the vehicles out of Dhaka but after refurbishing the exterior they bring those back on the streets as usual. Police department is not responsible for checking fitness,” Services of vehicle fitness inspection should be outsourced, as there are only 12 vehicle inspectors at BRTA for Dhaka city.
BRTA Chairman M Ayubur Rahman said some 209 places have been identified as vulnerable spots for the highways road accidents.About amin bazar road accident When this road was completed around the end of the 1999, it was a mystery that the this particular bride was not rebuilt though 3-4 new bridges were built on the same road. There was a crash barrier down the road at the savar army golf club but that has also disappeared after the road has been widen. I don't know why and who does all the planning and if the BUET team visited this site in 2005 and found the fault, why did not they started jumping on this issue unless it was solved. It's sad that the lives in Bangladesh does not have any values to those who are at the top level of the administration. The driver sure is at fault as he must have been aware of this bridge and probably was at higher speed which majority of the time is the main culprit for taking lives of ordinary people of this republic. The CNG runs vehicles are at higher risk of accidents as they have to accommodate an extra weight than the manufacturers limit and often disturbs the vehicles normality maneuverability.
Speeding fine is too low ( Tk 500 & Tk. 1000) and it is same whatever may be the speed. Fine should have a relation to the exceeding speed. Compare Canada example its from $150 to $10,000. For driving 50km/hr above speed limit, the vehicle will be impounded, license suspended along with a fine of $10,000.00.As per the eighth schedule of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1983, speed limit for light vehicles like cars is 113 kilometres per hour (kmph), passenger vehicles [buses, minibuses, etc] 56 kmph, and heavy vehicles [trucks, lorries and fire brigade vehicles] 48 kmph.
The HC on June 25 last year directed the government to install speed governor seals in all motor vehicles by June 30 this year, and directed Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) not to renew fitness certificates or registrations if vehicles are not fitted with the device by the deadline.
So BRTA returned to the court and explained the situation, and the court told the agency to set up a speed monitoring control room, and install speed monitoring devices in all motor vehicles instead, But a problem arose when BRTA found out that CNG, petrol, and octane run vehicles do not have any built-in mechanism for accepting speed control devices. Only diesel run vehicles have the mechanism.The documents show BRTA has requested the roads and highways department to set up standard signboards with speed limits on all the roads and highways.
The government is finally moving to install speed monitoring devices in all motor vehicles in the country, instead of speed governor seals, with the High Court's permission.
Families United Against Road Accident (FUARA), an organisation formed mostly by the families of the victims, FUARA highlighted many reasons for the accidents including lack of proper implementation of law, bus drivers’ ignorance of traffic law, unskilled driving, false licenses, defective roads and careless driving.
Road crashes are predictable and therefore preventable. Road safety experts have over the past two decades adopted a systems approach to road traffic injury prevention. This comprehensive approach takes into account the interaction of three factors -- human, vehicle and environment during three phases of a crash event: pre-crash, crash and post-crash. Implementation of the “safe systems” model has brought significant reduction in levels of traffic-related death and injury in many countries, including some developing ones. Admittedly, it takes time to attain those levels of road safety. But research has shown that public education backed by tough enforcement can achieve good results relatively cheaply and quickly.
There are plenty of success stories. Countries like Viet Nam have cut road deaths through the simple expedient of enforcing crash helmet laws. In Malaysia, Costa Rica and South Africa, pilot projects undertaken by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) have shown how thousands of lives can be saved through simple design changes. In Uganda, a programme on enhanced traffic enforcement cut road deaths by 17 percent.