Today, on 13 August, the 11th death anniversary of renowned filmmaker Tareque Masud and ATN news CEO, Mishuk Munier, the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) urged the government to form a fund to provide adequate compensation to victims of road accidents due to negligence.
The organisation has also called for an effective insurance system, alongside ensuring justice for accident victims and their families, and accountability of those responsible for such accidents.
Following some tragic accidents, the government enacted the Road Transport Act in 2018 to ensure safe movement of people on roads, but it has not been properly implemented yet. Though the act mentions a compensation fund for victims of accidents due to negligence there is no effective implementation of it, BLAST said in a press release.
The organisation also called for necessary reforms of the act with inclusion of provisions to ensure adequate compensation, taking the importance of passenger safety into account.
BLAST demanded mandatory and integrated passenger insurance (for river, road and air accidents) covering long-term financial losses, the working lifetime of killed and injured persons, and mental and physical damage, recognising accidents caused by negligence as a humanitarian disaster.
Sara Hossain, honorary executive director of BLAST, said, "The government has done much work to ensure road safety over the past 10 years, but there is no effective system of accountability and proper compensation for the families of victims or those who suffer injuries in road accidents."
Catherine Masud, widow of filmmaker Tareque Masud and the plaintiff in the compensation case, said, "About five years ago, the High Court ruled in our compensation case - the appeal of which is still pending. In the court verdict, the bus driver, transport company and insurance company are held responsible for the accident, but the compensation case filed by Mishuk Munier's family is awaiting trial in the High Court."
Advocate ZI Khan Panna, a member of the Board of Trustees of BLAST and a lawyer of the Supreme Court, said, "Road accidents claim more lives in Bangladesh than deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic. The people are being deprived of adequate compensation due to lack of proper planning and proper supervision, despite a huge budget allocation for the sector."
According to the Road Safety Foundation, 20,974 were killed, and 28,582 were injured in 18,169 accidents across the country due to negligence on the roads from 2019 to July 2022.