Mass protests demanding safer roads took place for nine days from late July to early August in Bangladesh.
Dangerous Roads in Bangladesh
On July 29th, two teenage students were struck and killed by a speeding bus in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Roads in Bangladesh were dangerous with lots of unlicensed drivers and bad driving manners, which resulted in many deaths and injuries on roads. Last year, about 4,000 pedestrians were killed in road accidents.
Young Students Demanding Safer Roads
Amid the mounting concerns of road safety in daily life, many students became agitated after an accident that killed two teenagers. They came out onto the roads and protested demanding for improved road safety. The protest was mostly led by teenage students who shared the news about the accident through a Social Network Service (SNS). Protesters demanded changes in the road traffic laws to control heavy traffic and to check the licenses of drivers.
|Road Safety Protest in Bangladesh (newsclick.in)|
The protest started in Dhaka and quickly spread around the country. Protesters occupied roads and stopped cars to check vehicle conditions and whether drivers had licenses or not, which subsequently paralyzed traffic in Dhaka. The protest sometimes became aggressive to the point that some protesters burned buses. The government took a strong stance against the protest. When the protest started, the mobile phone network was intentionally shut off for 24 hours. Moreover, armed police attacked the protesters using rubber bullets and tear gas. It resulted in more than 100 injuries and approximately 40 arrests. The students, however, did not give up their protest.
The Response of the Government
The Cabinet of Bangladesh has approved a new road safety law which reflects some of the protesters’ demands. The new law introduces tougher punishments on people who cause traffic accidents. It includes a sentence of up to five years imprisonment and a fine on car accidents that occur due to careless driving. It also states that drivers can face the death penalty if they are guilty of traffic accidents which cause fatalities.
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