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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Reckless driving and helpless people!

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Rajib Hossain, who lost his arm having been trapped between two competing buses in the capital, is on life support. He was going to his college by a double-decker BRTC bus. He was standing in the doorway at the back of the bus with his hand partly dangling out as the bus was overloaded. When the worn-out red bus got stranded at the Sonargaon crossing near Panthakunja Park, another bus tried to make its way through the narrow space between the double-decker and the footpath.

Rajib's right hand was sandwiched in between the two buses and got severed from the elbow. The severed hand was hanging from the double-decker. The rash race of the two buses and their craze to overtake one another took away Rajib's hand and his future as well. When would such illegal practices, by the buses ply the capital, end and at what cost? Who is to blame? Perhaps no one in this city of 'lawlessness' and no cost can fix it unless the victim is a VIP, which unfortunately Rajib was not.

However, in one sense he was lucky he broke headlines in newspapers and was portrayed in forearm-less pain on the online media. But I am sure no one else would aspire for such inglorious glory.As long as Rajib survives, he will live a life that can only be described as in human terms, depend on other people's mercy. This is due to the fact that disability-care facilities in our country are not so advanced and cannot cater to all of Rajib's needs. The offender buses, their owners and operators will keep on doing their business, churning out money from people's pockets and take away lives or limbs of some people whenever possible!

Also on Wednesday, we saw a media report depicting a young woman who got one of her legs crushed under the wheel of a speedy bus. She will probably end up living a miserable life; a different Rajib though life in this city will remain the same and will perhaps never change.

Rajib, who had lost his parents earlier, is the eldest of three brothers. He would bear the cost for raising his younger siblings through some toilsome work. Health Minister Mohammad Nasim came up with promises that the government would bear all the medical expenses of Rajib and will provide him with a government job.

Did the minister say why Rajib had to lose his forearm in such a tragic incident? Does it comfort Rajib? Will he get back his forearm? Will the perpetrators of this accident be made liable before law and made to pay or be punished? Even if the bus owners and operators feigned to be concerned the police would most likely see them through the peephole to safety and Rajib will be forgotten sooner or later.

These sorts of tragedies abound in our country, and promises of the ministers or whoever in most cases bring temporary relief or turn these into a hoax. We do not know how long this will go on. The bitter reality is we people will suffer, we will die, and we will lose our loved ones. There is nothing we can do except groaning and growling. Is there anyone to listen to? People like Rajib are born to die and get lost, this is our fait accompli.

Deaths and tragic accidents are front page news in all newspapers, and furious editorials and talk shows in television channels call for immediate investigation and punishments of those responsible. That's all. Thousands of people die in road accidents every year in our country. Many more are injured and left with terrible futures. It's almost analogous now to mass murder.

Casualties in road accidents rose to 22 percent in 2017 than that of in the previous year, according to statistics of Bangladesh Passenger Welfare Association. According to an organization called 'Nirapad Sarok', 5,645 people died in road accidents in 2017, compared to around 4,000 people died in 2016. But are the authorities taking steps to resolve this problem?

The fact is we are very helpless with this system. Similar accidents are taking place every day. A mother of two children was paralyzed in an accident and made headlines while a university student's dreams shattered when her leg was crushed under the wheels of a bus.

We live in a country where one of our ministers stunned the nation by asserting that anyone "who can identify cows and goats on the roads" could hold a driving license. In Dhaka nearly 75,000 human haulers and other small vehicles run without fitness, reports say. Therefore, those vehicles killing or hurting pedestrians or travelers should not surprise anyone.

Our collective failure is now ineligible for seeking forgiveness. There are no rules. There is no order, no liability, no responsibility. Corruption is the chief regulator of all regulatory bodies. The drivers do not need proper training. Vehicle fitness is an exaggeration of requirements. We have of late developed a new understanding as to how helpless, how insecure we are.

Rajib is no exception. Siddiqur Rahman lost eyesight in tear shell lobbed by police, or 20 people were blinded by the administration in wrong treatments in Sylhet, or Limon lost legs in the firing by Rapid Action Battalion.Why Rajib lost his right forearm completely? The two drivers had been giving each other an excuse. Rajib had to sacrifice his hand because of two stupid driver's competition.

But the fault is just of the drivers? Why are the drivers so desperate? Why don't they think about the passengers? Are there any proper answers to these questions? Yes, there are more reasons indeed. Transport owners force drivers to run extra trips to pile up income, arrange them fake licenses and even share drugs to keep spirits up. What else we need? They are on the winning side and we alone are the losers.


The writer works at The Asian Age

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