Thousands of students demonstrated in Dhaka on Wednesday to demand improved road safety after a university student was run over by a bus, in a city that only recently saw protests against poor road safety.
The protesters, many of whom wielded placards, blocked intersections at various places in the city, causing severe traffic jams. They also sat down on the streets under the scorching sun and chanted slogan ‘we want justice.’ ‘Won't let my brother's blood to go in vain,’ read one of the placards.
A passenger bus ran over Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury, 20, a first-year student of Bangladesh University of Professionals, at a pedestrian crossing on Tuesday.
The driver had no license to run the bus, said Atiqul Islam, mayor of the Dhaka South City Corporation. He promised legal action against the driver, and the owner of the bus company.
The protesters have a seven-point charter of demands that includes ensuring safety and discipline on roads, and the proper application of traffic rules.
‘We don't want to return home until the demands are met,’ Fahad Hossain, one protester, said. He noted that similar demands by students a year ago had been forgotten.
In 2018, hundreds of thousands of students took to the streets demanding improved road safety after two people were crushed by a bus on Dhaka's busy airport road. The protests lasted from July 29 to August 8.
‘We are not pleased only on assurances, now.’ said Hossain.
Lax implementation of law, poor infrastructure, reckless driving and lack of road awareness have all left Bangladesh among the countries with the highest road fatality rates.
More than 7,000 people were killed and more than 15,000 others injured in road crashes in 2018, according to a report by civic group Bangladesh Passenger Welfare Organisation.
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