2018 Bangladesh road-safety protests

2018 Bangladesh road-safety protests
Students Blocked Road for safe road.jpg
Students blocking a road in Uttara, Dhaka,
2 August 2018
Date29 July 2018 – 8 August 2018 
LocationBangladesh
Caused byTwo college students killed by negligent driver
GoalsEnsurement of safe roads, formulation and implementation of road-safety laws, and punishment of drivers violating traffic laws
MethodsProcessions, road blockade, sit-ins, Human chains, Checking Driving Licence, Controlling trafic on the road etc.
Resulted inFormulation of a new road safety law by the government, announcement of traffic week, change in driver recruitment and payment schemes
Parties to the civil conflict
Students of different educational institutions in Bangladesh, Journalists
Government of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Chhatra League, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, public bus drivers, Bangladesh Police
Casualties
Injuries150[1]

A series of public protests in Bangladesh advocating improved road safety were held from 29 July to 8 August 2018.[1] They were sparked by the deaths of two high-school students in Dhaka struck by a bus operated by an unlicensed driver who was racing to collect passengers. The incident impelled students to demand safer roads and stricter traffic laws, and the demonstrations rapidly spread throughout Bangladesh.[2][3]

The protests were peaceful until 4 August, when police attempted to disperse the demonstrators with tear gas and people believed to be members of a pro-government youth league attacked protesters and journalists.[4][5] The government arrested several protesters and a photographer for giving an interview about the protests to international media.[6][7] Various international organisations and high-profile figures expressed solidarity with the protesters.[8][9][10] The crack-down on the student protesters received high criticism both domestically and internationally.[11][12][13]

The third Sheikh Hasina Cabinet approved on 6 August a draft traffic act stipulating capital punishment for intentional killing and a maximum five-year prison sentence for accidental killing with a motor vehicle.[14] The protesters felt that the maximum five-year sentence was too light for accidental deaths due to reckless driving.[15] By 8 August, the situation in the city had returned to normal, most students had returned to their classes and traffic had resumed as normal, with many sources stating that the nine-day protests were over.[16][17][18]

Background

Bus services in Dhaka are notoriously unregulated and accident-prone. Although many traffic laws and regulations were passed by the parliament, it had not been put into action. Research by the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways showed that more than 4,200 people were killed and 16,100 others were injured in road accidents in Dhaka in 2017.[3][19] It is estimated that approximately 2.4 million vehicles are being driven by unqualified drivers in Dhaka in 2018.[20] The deaths of two students had led to these protests.

A road in Dhaka during the protests