EDITORIAL: What could be more nightmarish for those who on the eve of Eidul Adha received the bodies of their dear ones wrapped in coffins? These coffins had arrived from the Taunsa bypass on Indus Highway where 34 people were killed and 41 injured when the bus carrying them collided with a trailer truck.
The bus was en route to Rajanpur from Sialkot carrying about 80 blue-collar workers who wanted to celebrate Eid with their families. There are no clear answers to the questions whether the bus driver was asleep given his overnight drive or over-speeding while overtaking another vehicle. But what is clearly known is the fact that the bus was overloaded to the brim, so much so that it had about a dozen passengers on its rooftop as well.
The rescuers had to slice through the stricken bus and use a crane to retrieve the bodies. Among the dead were also some women and children. The injured, some in critical condition, have been shifted to hospitals. And all the rest of it is routine. An inquiry into the tragic accident has been ordered at the highest level - only to be buried in files.
In today's Pakistan the road and rail accidents take the highest toll of life after the Covid-19. About a month back, 85 people died in a collision between two passenger trains near Rohri. In May, 13 passengers lost their lives when a bus overturned near Rohri and in April 12 passengers died and 20 injured when two vehicles collided on the Mehran National Highway near Kot Diji in Sindh. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, in 2019-20 the total number of accidents was 9,701 in which 5,436 were killed and 12,317 were injured. As to what causes accidents there are quite a few explanations: the most common being negligence of drivers who routinely indulge in over-speeding, overloading and dangerous overtaking. Of course drivers are the main culprits but no less disturbing is the failure of concerned bus-stand managers and motorway/highway traffic police. Why was it allowed to undertake the journey with 80-plus passengers against its 55-seat capacity? How come such an overloaded bus could cover all the distance from Sialkot to Rajanpur without attracting the attention of traffic police? On this both the bus owner and the bus-stand manager owe an explanation. Insofar as the inquiry ordered by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is concerned, we know nothing will happen as the dismal record of such inquiries speaks for itself. Perhaps, federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry could be a bit more circumspect while tweeting, "When will we as nation realize that violating traffic rules is fatal?" The nation knows this, and expects of him to tell us how the concerned authorities are going to seize this demon of traffic violations and put it in bottle. Let this tragic incident on the eve of Eidul Adha become a change-maker with federal and provincial governments making a solemn pledge to effectively regulate the traffic business.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021