Student protest demanding road safety paralyzes Bangladesh’s capital
Dhaka, Nov 27 (EFE).- Hundreds of students took to the streets of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, on Saturday, occupying the main intersections of the city and paralyzing traffic, to demand the enforcement of road safety measures.
Protests were also held on Wednesday and Thursday after a college student was killed by a garbage truck but had cooled off on Friday, which was a holiday, as the authorities scrambled to fulfill some of the demands of the protesters, including half-fare for students in all public transportation.
Police arrested two people in connection with the death of Nayeem Hasan while Bangladesh’s Road Transport and Bridge Minister Obaidul Qauder announced that fare for students had been cut by 50 percent in all buses run by the state-owned Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC).
Private bus owners, however, rejected the students’ demands.
“We want safe roads for all and half-fare students in all public transport,” Mahfuzur Rahman, a student of Mohammadpur Preparatory College in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi area, told EFE.
“When we want to give half-fare, bus employees misbehave with us. They don’t allow us to board buses even if there are empty seats. A few days ago, a student was pushed from a bus when he wanted to give half fare. We want an end to this kind of harassment,” he added.
Another student, Ajra Beri, told EFE that the protesters wanted answers from the government as to why the demands made during the Road Safety Movement in 2018 had still not been fulfilled.
Between July and August of 2018, students protested for over a week for road safety measures after two students were killed by a speeding bus near the Dhaka Cantonment.
The 2018 protests, which spread across the country, led the government to enact a road transport law increasing the punishment for death due to negligent driving to five years.
The law determined that the deliberate running over of people would draw murder charges and carry a death sentence.
Students claim that though the law was passed in the country’s parliament on Sep. 19, 2018, it has yet to be implemented.
“We want an answer from the administration as to why the Road Transport Act 2018 and other decisions have not been implemented yet. We don’t want half-fare only in BRTC buses but in all kinds of public transport, including trains,” Beri said.
Accidents are common in Bangladesh due to the poor state of roads in the heavily populated and poverty-stricken South Asian country.
Nearly 4,000 people lost their lives and more than 3,800 were injured in some 4,200 road accidents in the country in 2020, according to police. EFE