KARACHI, Aug 19: More than 60 people were killed in road accidents during Ramazan, with authorities and observers saying that violations of traffic rules and rash driving were the key causes for the high number of casualties in the 30 days.
Figures collected by the Road Traffic Injury Research and Prevention Centre at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) from all five major hospitals in the city showed a total of 60 people killed in road accidents between the 1st and 30th of Ramazan, which began on July 21.
“In 30 days, fatalities have been recorded by five major hospitals, including the JPMC, Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and the Liaquat National Hospital,” said an official.
“Forty-six per cent of the victims were motorcyclists or pillion-riders, 35 per cent were pedestrians, 15 per cent commuters of public transport and two per cent each drivers of four-wheelers and three-wheelers [rickshaws].”
He said most victims were treated at the JPMC or the CHK. The majority of accidents were reported shortly before sunset, highlighting drivers’ deadly haste to reach their destinations before Iftar.
The fresh figures came as a grim reminder of the fact that road accidents tend to become common during the holy month.
In Ramazan of 2010, a total of 107 people were killed in traffic accidents. In 2011, the number was lower, due to the ethnic, political and sectarian violence which brought the city to a virtual standstill at times.
In 2010, a total of 76 people were killed in traffic accidents on different city roads in the 29 days of the holy month.
Experts say that the alarming rise in casualties during Ramazan indicates severe violations of traffic rules and drivers’ disregard for their own safety as well as that of others.
Similarly, ineffective traffic policing is also blamed for such incidents.
“As the data shows, pedestrians and motorcyclists are always the most vulnerable segment in these fatal accidents,” said Syed Ameer Hussain of the Road Traffic Injury Research & Prevention Centre.
“Every Ramazan, we witness over-speeding before Iftar, which adds up with other factors behind the increasing fatality rate.”
Some critics also found a lack of public awareness, ill-maintained infrastructure and an inadequate number of pedestrian bridges at sensitive road crossings as major reasons for the high casualty figures.
Police authorities, however, place the blame on pedestrians and the violation of traffic laws by drivers. They said that, in many cases, drivers and pedestrians were seen putting themselves in danger while on the road.
“There is no reason but reckless driving and least respect of traffic rules by the drivers and the motorcyclists as well as the pedestrians,” said Dr Abdul Maalik, DIG (Traffic).
“In Ramazan you see there is more movement on roads in particular phases of the day compared to other months, which ultimately increases the fatality rate amid such grave violation of traffic rules.”