Around 1:45am on 23 January, a garbage truck, speeding recklessly from the Mohakhali Flyover towards Bijoy Sarani rammed Shikha Rani Gharami, a city corporation cleaner, pushing her off the rails and onto the road, killing her on the spot.
After a number of deaths in a similar fashion in recent months, a city corporation garbage truck claimed the life of a city corporation employee this time around.
Khokon Gharami, 24, son of Shikha Rani, 55, was speechless when he went to the Shahid Suhrawardy Hospital morgue to take her mother's body.
Later, he filed a case with the Tejgaon police on Sunday.
Shah Alam, Inspector (Investigation) at the Tejgaon Police Station told The Business Standard, "As soon as we were informed, a team led by sub-inspector Jesmin Begum rushed to the scene and brought the victim to the hospital. Doctors told us that she died on the spot."
Speaking on the case, filed by the victim's son, Shah Alam said that they are yet to identify anyone and the case was filed against one unnamed individual.
The actual number of deaths caused by city corporation garbage trucks is not properly documented in either of the city corporations in the capital. Besides, the voluntary organisations, which keep records of accidents, do not separately keep data on these deaths.
However, from news reports of the last five years, information of at least 18 deaths by city corporation garbage trucks can be found, of which at least 8 deaths took place in the last one year (17 January 2021 – 23 January 2022) alone.
In every single one of the incidents, which saw deaths of college students, journalists, teachers and general people, probe committees were formed. But, not on a single occasion did the victims' families get any disclosure as every time half-hearted inquiry reports failed to identify the real culprits.
Following the recent death of Notre Dame College student Nayeem Hasan, the irregularities and mismanagement of both the city corporations' transport management came to light. Most of the city corporation drivers were also found to be underage and operating vehicles without driving licences. Apparently, no one listed in the city corporation drives the garbage trucks, it was revealed!
Deaths by garbage trucks
On 4 March, 2016, a businessman named Abul Kalam Azad died when he was hit by a garbage truck in the House Building area of Uttara.
On 30 September 2016, a Border Guard Bangladesh jawan named Abu Taher was killed after he was run over by a vehicle belonging to the south city corporation.
On 7 September 2017, two cousins named Rimon (25) and Sharin (22) were killed in a road mishap in front of the Sabujbagh Buddhist temple in the capital.
On 24 November, 2018, Nurjahan Begum (21), a housewife, was killed in a collision with a DSCC garbage truck in Bangshal. Her husband Md Shafi Ulla was seriously injured in the incident.
On 7 December, 2019, Abdul Khaleq Hawlader (67), a travelling betel leaf seller, was killed after being rammed by a garbage truck in Mirpur.
On 17 January 2021, Khalid, 50, a Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) staffer was killed in a head-on collision with a Dhaka South garbage truck. Like most incidents, the family is yet to receive justice although 11 months have passed.
On 16 April 2021, a rickshaw puller was killed when a Dhaka south city corporation garbage truck hit him at the capital's Jatrabari area. Agitated crowd set fire to the city corporation vehicle.
On 2 May 2021, a bank employee named Swapan Ahmed (33) was killed in a garbage truck accident at Shahjahanpur's TT para area. Truck driver Nurul Islam was arrested in the incident.
On 13 May 13, a woman biker named Mira Arfim (35) was killed near Savar when she was hit by a Dhaka north city corporation garbage truck.
On 24 November, Nayeem Hasan, a student of Notre Dame College, was killed by a south city corporation vehicle.
The following day on 25 November, journalist Ahsan Kabir Khan was killed after a Dhaka North City Corporation garbage truck hit him.
On 2 December, a Dhaka North City Corporation garbage truck hit a woman, leaving her critically injured.
On 23 December, Swapan Kumar Sarkar (62) was killed by a garbage truck of south city corporation in Wari area.
Little drive by city corporations to implement initiatives
Dhaka North City Corporation has a total of 165 garbage trucks and in contrast, there are only 62 permanent drivers. There are 20 more drivers, who are hired on a daily wage basis. On the other hand, the South City Corporation has 316 garbage trucks and only 86 drivers.
Following the two deaths of Student Nayeem and Journalist Ahsan on back to back days in November both the city corporations decided that they will not operate garbage trucks during the day and also decided that no one, without a driver's licence, would drive the vehicles.
Since then, the waste management of the two city corporations seemed to be in disarray. At the time, the North city corporation officials said, their garbage trucks were carrying garbage at night hours and other than their own drivers they were also operating vehicles with temporarily contracted drivers.
They also said some 94 drivers would be recruited and included in the master roles as soon as possible, but the north city corporation authorities are yet to hire any.
"We have not been able to recruit any driver so far but the process is on," Commodore SM Sharif-ul Islam, chief waste management officer of North City Corporation, told The Business Standard.
"A committee has been formed for this. Recruitment process of 46-47 people is also going on and the process requires time," he added.
Regarding the recent accident, he said, "We are yet to identify the vehicle responsible for the incident. Police are working on it and when the car is identified, we will take action according to the law."
Asked if any assistance would be provided to the families of the victims, he said that the City Corporation will certainly provide some assistance to the victim's family
He, also pointed out that the deceased was not a cleaner hired by our city corporation rather she worked under their contractor.
On 30 November, during a meeting with north city corporation's drivers' Mayor Atiqul Islam warned that only drivers handed the duty will drive the vehicles.
He further added that all vehicles will be equipped with modern GPS and dash cameras.
The mayor's false assurance!
"You are like my younger sister and I am taking full responsibility for your family. You will not have to worry about family expenses and children's education," – this is what Mayor Atiqul Islam said while consoling Ahsan Kabir's wife over phone.
A press release was also sent to the media on the same day from the Public Relations Department of the city corporation promising Tk50,000 as financial support for the family.
The city corporation also promised a freezer van to transport the dead body to their home district of Jhalakathi.
But the family said no one came to even ask how they were doing in the last two months since the accident, let alone receiving any financial support.
Nadira Parveen Rekha (40) wife of the deceased, filed a case with Kalabagan Police Station. Two months on – she is now at a loss and does not know how she is going to run the family with her son Sadman Shahriar Kaif (15) and daughter Safrin Kabir Diya (10).
Later, mayor Atiqul Islam spoke on his mobile phone to offer condolences to the wife of the deceased Ahsan Kabir Khan.
Ahsan Kabir's cousin Zaheer Elias Khan said, "That night, Motakabbir Ahmed, the regional executive officer of DNCC (Karwan Bazar) Zone-5, came to pay Tk50,000 on the condition of a settlement. The grieving family did not accept any money at that time."
He further said that they did not hire any ambulance on assurances from the city corporation,
"But, they did not keep their word. They did not even send the ambulance," he said.
"The relatives and well-wishers did not come forward because of the false propaganda by the city corporation. Everyone thinks that we are doing well," said Nadira before adding, "The reality is we received nothing."
Yesterday evening, the same city corporation team went to see the family and when they were asked for their promised support they replied, saying it was a routine visit and offered no compensation, claimed the family.