Tragedy in Dang should be a wakeup call

Published On: December 24, 2018 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Thirty-four students accompanied by two teachers of Ghorai-based Krishna Sen Ichchhuk Polytechnic Institute were on an educational tour. They had gone to Kapurkot in Salyan for a field visit and were returning home on Friday. But this turned out to be the last journey for as many as 23 of them.  The fatal crash that occurred after the bus carrying them swerved off and fell some 600 meters down along the Tulsipur-Salyan road claimed their lives. As many as 19 students and two teachers from the Polytechnic Institute have lost their lives sending the whole village in deep mourning. The tragedy did not only claim lives but also killed dreams and aspirations these students had and hope their parents had pinned on them. The sorrow the parents of these students are experiencing cannot be described in words. This is a national tragedy and we express our deep condolences to the bereaved families.

Friday’s accident comes in the wake of an alarming finding by Nepal Police.  A total of 4,298 road accidents took place in the first four months of fiscal year 2018/19, leaving 864 people dead and 1,488 critically injured, says the recent police data. In one month alone, 49 people lost their lives in road fatalities. Police records show deaths in road accidents are in increasing trend.  Friday’s incident proves that accidents are happening with more troubling frequency. Only on Sunday, three people died in a road accident in Khotang. The causes of road accidents are almost the same in most cases: Accidents have occurred either because the roads have been opened for driving much before their proper construction, or because the bends and stretches are too narrow for drivers to negotiate and move on, or because drivers are too young, or that they drive too fast and too recklessly or the buses are overloaded.

These causes have been well identified and various committees have been formed (usually after the road tragedies) to investigate and come up with measures to address them. As a matter of fact, after every major accident probe committees are formed and they submit their recommendations to the government authorities.  Urgency for controlling road accidents is expressed during accident times.  Prime Minister and ministers express condolences to the bereaved families, might visit the accident sites or even announce some amount of money as compensation for the victims.  Our measures to control road accidents are usually limited to these formalities. We cannot control road menace this way. As we have been arguing in this space, we need to make road safety the national priority and bring every possible measure that it may require to realize it. Road accidents are claiming way too many lives. If the government and Home Ministry do not come up with immediate measures to ensure road safety, we will have to bear with painful news of children, students and adults dying on the roads.  Every single life on the road should be safe. Feel the urgency. Time is running out.

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