Day to Remember Road Crash Victims: They lose hope every day

An SSC examinee of the capital’s Wari High School Abir Ahmed was killed in front of his school on January 27 this year, the day he received farewell from the institution.

A water tanker of Dhaka Wasa run him over. According to witnesses and police, the driver of the tanker was reckless on the road that was usually used by pedestrians.

Locals caught the driver, seized the vehicle and handed over to police.

It has been over nine months now but the family members of Abir have not served with justice yet.

“We are losing hope about getting justice day by day,” Abir’s sister Liza Akhter told The Daily Star yesterday.

A visibly frustrated Liza said, “The incident happened on broad daylight and he [the driver] was caught on the spot. There was huge outcry after the incident. Even then, he [the driver] got released on bail within a few days of the incident.”

Liza had earlier told reporters that many approached them on behalf of the accused not to run the case “as it would not bring any good to them”.

“They no longer approach us as the driver got released on bail a long time ago,” she said, adding, “We do not want compensation or anything of that sort. We want justice for my brother.”

Liza’s family is in a way lucky to have police pressed charge sheet in the case.

Still, it will be an agonising long wait for Abir’s family to see the end, considering the lengthy legal process.

Families of road accident victims in the country hardly get justice. Legal procedures end only in a handful of cases and that too after massive protests, said road safety campaigners.

Besides, getting compensation for road crashes is also a far cry. The new law — Road Transport Act-2018 — stipulates setting up a new system to deal with compensation-related issues after a road accident.

As per the act, there would be a trustee board and a fund for giving compensation regarding road crashes. But, the rules of law — which is require to form the board and to run the fund — was not formulated in the last two years.

Against this backdrop World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is being observed today.

The day, initiated by the British charity RoadPeace in 1993 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, is being observed on the third Sunday in November every year as the appropriate acknowledgment of victims of road crashes and their families.

There is, however, no official programme to mark the day in Bangladesh.

The objectives of the day this year, among others, are to provide a platform for road accident victims and their families to “draw attention to the generally trivial legal response to culpable road deaths and injuries and advocate for better support for road traffic victims and victim families.”

Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, who is also vice-chairman of Road Safety Foundation, said road traffic victims or their family members demand mainly two things — justice and compensation.

“But it is very difficult to get these in our country due to many reasons,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Transport associations are very powerful and road crashes victims, in most instances, do not dare to file cases. If a case is filed, he or she has to wait for a long time to see the end of the lengthy legal process, he said.

About compensations, he said there was a provision in Motor Vehicles Ordinance-1983, now defunct, under which a victim or their family members could have filed case for compensation. But very few people, including lawyers, were aware about it.

He said the provisions under the new law for compensation looks good, but feared that the fund collection mostly with the contribution from transport associations would promote extortion.

“These associations will give the money actually taking from people and I think this system will legalise extortion,” he alleged.

Ekram Ahmed, convener of Families United Against Road Accident (FUARA), said road accident victims and their family members do not get justice mainly due to weakness in police investigation and poor evidence.

He said many people do not file case after accident thinking that it would take long time and has to spend huge money to complete the legal procedure. Lengthy procedures caused “justice delayed, justice denied”, he added.

Ekram, a former chairman of Bangladesh Public Service Commission, who lost his son in a road crash in November 2009, said in some cases related to road crashes, court fines the accused.

There should have a provision so that the victim or their family members can get the fine, he added.

At least 37,170 people were killed and 82,758 injured in 26,902 road accidents in the last five years since 2015, according to Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity.


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