Police can’t evade responsibility for death of scientists, engineer

The discrepancies of the concerned authorities and the law enforcement agencies, along with the mismanagement and anarchy on the streets, have led to a steady increase in road accidents and deaths. Three scientists of the Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), an engineer and two bus drivers were killed in a tragic road accident on Sunday. This is totally unacceptable. This is a prime example of all kinds of negligence and disregard for the law.

Quoting Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, Prothom Alo reported that the ‘Safe Line’ bus which is responsible for the accident, had no route permit for the past eight years. Its tax papers had expired seven years ago. According to the bus assistant, they had started out from Gabtali on the morning of the previous day and were returning that very night to Dhaka via Shailakupa, Jhenaidah.

The bus driver had been exhausted and was driving sleepily. The video of the accident that went viral on the social media also showed how bizarre the situation was. The bus hit a truck head on coming down the opposite lane, crossed over the road divider and crashed into the Atomic Energy Commission bus.

The steps taken by the police after the accident were also instances of inefficiency and error. It was only 30 hours after the ‘Safe Line’ bus driver died at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital that Savar highway police only to know about it. And only the driver was named as the accused in the case. Questions have arisen about taking action against the owner of the bus.

How could the bus owner so easily let the bus free on the roads? Were the highway police sleeping like Rip Van Winkle? There must be due investigation into how this bus was running on the roads. The highway police in no way can evade responsibility for the Savar accident

One of the scientists who died, Puja Sarker, was six months pregnant. But the accidents snatched away all those dreams. The mother of another one of the scientists who was killed in the accident, Md Arifuzzaman, questioned, “My son was fine in Japan. Why did I ever bring him back!”

The untimely death of the scientists and the engineer is not just a loss for the families, but an irrevocable loss for the country too. Minister for science and technology Yeafesh Osman, expressing his sorrow of the deaths, quite correctly said, “So much of the taxpayers money, hard-earned money goes into the making of a scientist. There is no replacement for them. I express my sorrow for the persons killed in the Savar road accident.”

After the road safety movement in 2018, the Prime Minister’s Office formed a committee that came up with 30 directives to establish order on the roads. Other than that, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also ordered that alternative drivers be kept for long haul routes and that a driver not drive for more than five hours at a stretch.

It is apparent from the Savar accident that the directives of the prime minister and the prime minister’s office have not been implemented. The road transport and bridges ministry, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, transport leaders, bus owners, drivers, highway police and all concerned quarters have taken no initiative to establish order and discipline on the roads.

We are unwilling to term the Savar incident as a mere road accident. This is an accident caused by negligence or a glaring example of systemic murder. According to experts, a bus with no fitness or route permits is as dangerous as a deadly weapon. How could such a bus remain on the roads for eight years?

How could the bus owner so easily let the bus free on the roads? Were the highway police sleeping like Rip Van Winkle? There must be due investigation into how this bus was running on the roads. The highway police in no way can evade responsibility for the Savar accident.

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