Tragic travels

Published April 14, 2024

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent spate of mishaps should serve as reminders of the perils of public transport in the country. Eid revelry took an unfortunate turn in Qasim Jokhio village in Thatta — at least 17 out of 100 pilgrims on their way to the Shah Noorani shrine in Khuzdar died in a road accident that left 50 wounded. Separately, another two were killed in the Lawkhryan area and the Quetta-Karachi National Highway in Khuzdar — all preventable calamities caused by a faulty truck and reckless or rookie drivers. On the other front, boats, too, are proving dangerous: at least eight persons drowned when a boat carrying 15 people capsized in the Indus near Kund Park in Nowshera. In Charsadda, three children drowned in the Swat river and a young boy, caught in steel wires, died in the Ghurzandi dam near Kohat.

Indeed, the list of administrative flaws is endless, and existing regulations — from putting on seatbelts and helmets to travel in safe vehicles — are poorly implemented. The authorities must come down hard on underperforming departments and personnel, and devise a robust safety programme comprising road investment, lighting, speed cameras and inspection of vehicles and licences. Traffic police, essential to safe roads, ought to be made accountable for accidents caused by ramshackle transport and lawbreaking drivers, thereby ensuring an eye on untrained motorists and overcrowded vehicles. Moreover, guidelines for boat and ferry movement and safety, with mandatory life jackets, a limited number of passengers and life guards on river banks and the seafront, is the least administrators can do to keep citizens alive. A gasping economy makes instituting safety valves a challenge. The best solution, however, comprises safe and economical options for low-income groups so that they can survive holiday excursions. Even a single life lost is a tragedy that cannot morph into a statistic.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

Editorial

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