Despite the closure of public transport for 85 days as a measure to curb Covid-19 infection in 2021, the death procession on the road remained unbridled as the number of deaths and injuries increased by 1,123 439 respectively compared to the previous year, 2020.
Last year, 7,809 people died in 5,629 road accidents across the country while 6,686 people died in 4,891 accidents in 2020. With these, 51,665 deaths and 1,00,397 injuries were reported from 37,422 accidents since 2015, according to the annual road accident report-2021 of the Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (Passengers Welfare Association).
The association published the report at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity's Sagar-Runi Auditorium on Sunday.
The report claimed that 7,730 vehicles were involved in road accidents last year, of which 30.42% were trucks, pickups, lorries and covered vans while 25.59% were motorcycles.
Besides, in comparison to 2020, the number of accidents on national highways increased by 2.58%, feeder roads by 1.23% and rail crossings by 0.06% in 2021. However, accidents on regional highways have decreased by 4.5%.
At the press conference, Jatri Kalyan Samity Secretary General Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury pointed out several reasons for road accidents including reckless driving, risky overtaking, defective roads, unfit vehicles, carelessness of commuters, unskilled drivers, etc.
The other problems he mentioned are using mobile phones or earphones by drivers or being intoxicated while driving, sudden entry of vehicles from feeder roads to rail crossing and highways, and lack of required pavements or occupied pavements.
The organisation made 12 recommendations including the implementation of the election manifesto of the present government on road safety, strict implementation of Road Transport Act-2018, increase in budget for road safety and formation of separate road ministry.
During the media briefing, Dr Hadiuzzaman, director of the Accident Research Centre at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, termed road accidents a national problem.
"There are so many laws, there are recommendations, but nothing has been implemented," he added.
Human rights activist Nur Khan Liton said there are countless numbers of harassment incidents of female passengers on public transport. Another important issue is that drivers are not allowed to have proper rest, which also causes accidents.
Among others, former president of Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abdul Haque, journalist Manjurul Islam Panna, general secretary of Nagorik Shonghoti Sharifuzzaman Sharif were present on the occasion.