Violation of rules, police negligence, no rest for drivers and lack of awareness among the people are the main contributors to the chaotic traffic situation and rampant road accidents across the country, observed a High Court bench yesterday while Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor, Sayeed Khokon said only six transport companies will be operating bus services in the capital from December 2020.
“The people do not follow the laws. Bus owners do not give rest to bus drivers even after driving for eight hours continuously. Police has also been negligent in ensuring road safety. These are the main reasons behind an increase in the number of road accidents in the country,” the HC bench, comprising Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader, said while handing over a cheque of Tk 5 lakh by the Green Line Paribahan to Russel Sarkar, who lost his left leg after a bus of the transport company ran over him in April last year.
Md Alauddin, the owner of Green Line Paribahan, handed over the cheque of Tk five lakh to Russel Sarkar inside a courtroom at the High Court. The HC asked Green Line Paribahan to pay the remaining Tk 45 lakh to Russel Sarkar within a month. Md Alauddin told the court that he was suffering losses in his business and was, therefore, not in a position to give any more money to Russel Sarkar.
After appearing before the court, the owner said that he could not pay the money earlier as per the court"s order as he was ill. The court expressed deep dissatisfaction, saying Russel was a daily worker before losing his leg beneath a bus of the company, but Green Line Paribahan did not compensate him, although it was running its business.
A survey has revealed that the fatalities caused by road accidents had risen across the country due to the various problems including reckless driving and the flouting of rules.
The Appellate Division and the High Court Division of the Supreme Court has played great role to reduce road accident by delivering certain significant orders directing the offenders to pay compensation to the victims or their families.
Lawyers say that bus owners would not now give their vehicles to inefficient drivers following the apex court verdict and would try to hire skilled drivers. As a result, the number of road accidents may come down.
Apart from yesterday"s order, following the HC directive, the owner of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan had to give Tk 10 lakh to the two families of two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin School and College—Diya Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim Rajib, who were killed when a Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan bus ploughed through some students in front of Kurmitola General Hospital on Airport Road on July 29.
A day after their death, the High Court had on July 30 in 2018 directed the owners of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan to provide Tk 5 lakh to the families of the two students. Later, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the High Court order that forced the payment of the compensations to the victims" families.
Now, a rule pending before the HC for disposal asks the authorities concerned to explain why they should not be directed to provide Tk 2 crore to each family as compensation and ensure people"s safety in public transport by strictly implementing traffic rules.
Moreover, the HC had on March 21 directed the Suprabhat Paribahan authority to pay Tk 10 lakh to the parents of Bangladesh University of Professionals student Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury, who was killed by its speeding bus on a zebra crossing of Pragati Sarani in the capital on March 19. Later, the Appellate Division upheld the HC order that asked the Suprabhat Paribahan authorities to pay Tk 10 lakh within seven days.
Now, a rule issued by the HC earlier is pending for disposal and asks the government and Suprabhat Paribahan to explain in four weeks why they would not be directed to pay Tk 5 crore as compensation to Abrar"s parents.
During yesterday"s proceeding before the HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader, the court told the Green Line Paribahan authorities to rest their drivers after they complete eight hours of driving at a time.
Regarding road accidents, the HC bench observed they were increasing in the country because rules were not being followed.
In its observations, the HC bench said that the drivers as well as the common people sometimes broke the rules and that led to to road accidents. “There is negligence from the police side. Police is negligent in ensuring road safety across the country,” the HC said.
The bus owners did not give rest to bus drivers even after completing eight hours of continuous driving. The bus owners should give them rest after driving eight hours, the HC bench said.
The HC bench also pointed out that recently school students were out on the streets, demanding the road safety. They agitation was due to the anarchy prevailing in the road transport system and repeated road accidents in the country.
“If a boy or girl dies due to a road accident, it would be a loss of the country"s wealth,” the HC bench observed.
Later, the HC bench asked the Green Line Paribahan authority to bear the cost of Russel Sarkar"s treatment, as he is now having problems on his other leg.
Meanwhile, another bench of the High Court, comprising Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam, started hearing on a rule issued by it over paying a compensation of Tk 1 core to the family of Rajib Hossain, who died after losing his hand that got stuck between two buses in Dhaka in April last year.
Rajib, a third-year student of the Government Titumir College, lost his right hand after it got stuck between two speeding buses belonging to the BRTC and Sajan Paribahan that were racing to overtake each other. The accident occurred in the Bangla Morots area in Dhaka on April 3 last year.
During yesterday"s hearing, Barrister Ruhul Kuddus Kajol, counsel for Rajib"s family, told the court that the meritorious student died because of the negligence of bus drivers, which had emerged from the probe reports of BRTC and BUET.
If the court does not pass strict orders to ensure road safety, hundreds of meritorious students and common people would become victims of road accidents due to reckless driving and non-implementation of the rules and regulations, he added.
Later, the HC bench fixed next Wednesday for further hearing.
Meanwhile, Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), a human rights body, yesterday sent a legal notice to the government to make the Road Transport Act-2018 effective through issuance of a gazette notification within the next seven days.
Advocate Manzill Murshid, the president of HRPB sent the legal notice, saying that appropriate legal action will be taken if the Act is not made effective through a gazette notification within a week.
The notice was sent to the secretaries of the Cabinet Division, president, prime minister, Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Law, Ministry of Home and Road Transport and Bridges Division.
Mazill said that the Road Transport Act was passed by parliament and a gazette notification containing the Act was published on October 8 last year. But the government is yet to issue a gazette notification in this regard.
According to a provision of the law, the government has to issue another gazette notification to make the law effective, but the government is yet to do that, he said.
The bill on the Road Transport Act was passed in order to ensure people"s safety and life security on roads and pin the accountability of those involved in the road transport sector; particularly that of the bus and truck drivers, helpers, owner, and their associations, he added.
The number of road accidents and deaths has increased over the past four years, according to the police statistics, according to the findings of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority and the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of BUET.
The statistics provided by the ARI, however, shows a higher numbers of accidents and deaths comparing to police and BRTA data.
The number of highway accidents and deaths has decreased, but the total numbers have increased throughout the country. At least 1,773 persons died in highway accidents in 2015, 1,769 persons died in 2016, 1,601 in 2017 and 1,439 in 2018, according to the ARI.
At least 10,828 people were seriously injured due to the road accident in 2018 while it was previously stood at 9,112 in 2017.
In another development, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor, Sayeed Khokon said only six transport companies will be operating bus services in the capital. Within December 2020, buses will be operated on 22 routes under these six companies, to streamline the mass transport system of Dhaka city.
The six bus companies will be coloured with six separate hues - - pink, orange, green, purple, maroon and blue. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) will take prior steps to keep traffic under control before the coming Ramadan.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the task force committee yesterday afternoon after a meeting at Nagar Bhaban.
“A decision has been taken to start bus services on 22 routes through six companies to streamline public transport. If this is implemented, discipline in the public transport system will return in Dhaka and its surrounding areas. This decision will be implemented by December 2020. Service for the city dwellers will be modified through proper management,” the Mayor said.
The Mayor said the plan will be implemented by 2020 as a gift of the "Mujib Year".
He said: “The Prime Minister has declared 2020 as "Mujib Year". We want to bring discipline in the mass transport of Dhaka city within that year. A new team will work to ensure facilities of citizens. Traffic jams become a huge problem during the Ramadan month. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police will take prior steps to bring traffic under control before Ramadan.”
Khokon further said: “Circular bus rationalisation will be completed by next year. Circular bus services will be launched in the Motijheel area by the end of April, and in Uttara at the beginning of May. Apart from that, another circular bus service might be started from Gulistan to Sadarghat and Jatrabari very soon.”
On April 10, Mayor Khokon had said some 4,500 new buses — half of which will be air-conditioned — will be introduced in the capital, and all old buses will be taken off within two years.
The Dhaka north and south city corporations launched the circular service on March 27 on two routes. As per the plan, four AC buses are plying between Dhanmondi and Azimpur, and four double-deckers are on the Abdullahpur-Motijheel route.