A total of 3,502 people got killed in road crashes by the end of August this year, which means 14 individuals died every day. While life goes on as is for the powers that be, it is the students again who decided that enough is enough.
The demonstrating students left the roads over the weekend after being offered platitudes by the custodians of the city. They were back in greater numbers yesterday.
For them, SSC examinee Mainuddin Islam’s death on Monday night was another death too many.
Unfortunately, it was not the last. As protests raged on in Dhaka, a college student was killed after a truck and a motorcycle collided on Station Road, Chattogram, early yesterday.
Joydwip Das of Cox’s Bazar was a student of Mirsarai Degree College. He was supposed to sit for the coming HSC exams.
Sub-inspector Belayet of Kotwali Police Station who visited the scene told that Joydip and his two friends were on the motorcycle.
“The motorcycle was overtaking the truck when the latter hit it near the Riazuddin Bazar area. The incident happened around 3:30 am,” he said, quoting witnesses. Joydip died at the scene and the others were seriously injured.
Joydip’s elder sister Srabontee Das said the family would not file a case and her brother’s body had been cremated without an autopsy.
In the capital, students demonstrated safer roads at several places throughout yesterday.
The Rampura intersection was where Mainuddin was crushed to death by a bus of Anabil Paribahan on his birthday.
As students started stopping vehicles and checking the licenses and registrations at Rampura intersection after 10:30 am yesterday, it became apparent just how many vehicles did not have fitness certificates.
At least six police vehicles had no valid papers.
The discoveries resulted in an uproar as the students chanted: “Shame, shame! Police don’t have papers!” They also sprayed graffiti to mark the vehicles.
The on-duty traffic police seized vehicles of their own. “Police seized a [policeman’s] car and brought it to Rampura traffic police box in response to the students’ demands,” said Khilgaon Zone Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohammad Nurul Amin who was present at the scene.
The driver informed police that the car belonged to an additional SP of Police Headquarters.
The demonstrators later stopped a rented police bus and four motorcycles used by policemen for not having valid papers.
The students also stopped a vehicle bearing a sticker from the Ministry of Information because the driver had an expired license.
Sohagi Samia, a student of Khilgaon Model College, said she and her fellows would continue the demonstration until the demands for safer roads are realized.
Mainuddin was killed by one of two buses racing to get passengers, witnesses said.
It has been reported many times that bus drivers and conductors are not paid a steady salary. Instead, they are given a cut from the fares collected every day. So they routinely compete with each other to get the highest number of trips and passengers.
One of the main demands of the 2018 road safety protests was an end to this practice. Bus owners agreed to this on paper but the reality remains the same.
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, general secretary of Dhaka Road Transport Owners’ Association, admitted that “some” buses were still being operated in the old way. The association is working to stop it, he added.
Students protesting at Motijheel’s Shapla Chattar vandalized a bus of Midline Paribahan. They demonstrated for almost two hours, bringing traffic to a standstill.
Traffic Inspector Fazlur Rahman said normal traffic resumed by lunch.
HALF-FARE FOR STUDENTS
Transport companies yesterday agreed to accept half-fare from students with identity cards between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm in Dhaka city from today.
However, the benefit can’t be availed on weekends and holidays.
Enayet made the announcement at a press briefing at the association’s office. The decision comes after weeks of protests by students in the face of a hike in bus fares.
He urged the government to consider the association’s demand for an incentive in exchange for giving students the benefit.