Mon. Oct 21st, 2019

Heart-wrenching Gitidas Crash – II


By Syed Shamsuddin


As against this, a precise summation of the scenario across Pakistan is termed as horrific. In this connection, it is pertinent to refer to a seminar on road safety measures at Karachi University (KU) early this year, to take stock of the situation. The dean of civil and petroleum engineering faculty at NED University was referred to as saying there were three major factors behind  road accidents. He said that 67% of the accidents become outrightly attributable to human errors, 28% to poor infrastructure and deteriorating condition of roads and 5% to unfit vehicles.

It was concluded that there was a dire need to improve road infrastructure emphasizing that if one considers all relevant components while constructing roads, the number of accidents would reduce.

Hailing the research being conducted at the varsity, the participants of the seminar underscored its continuity in order to create awareness and to provide relief to people. “Good research is meant to be useful for society rather than keeping them in libraries in book form,” it concluded.

It is emphasized that engineers should adopt designs that meet the road safety requirement and help reduce traffic accidents. A mass awareness campaign should always remain underway help people follow traffic rules and regulations and encourage the rest to do the same in seeing that ignorance of traffic rules was another major cause of road accidents. “If the citizens follow traffic rules then we can protect a number of human lives,” it concluded. It was said that if the number of road accidents did not decline then it could become the third major cause of death. He said that teenagers were more than five times at risk to get into accidents than drivers aged 30 and above and added that in Karachi, average fatality age due to road accidents is 29 years. It is quite alarming that Pakistan is said to rank first in Asia and 48th in the world for most deaths caused by traffic accidents. Referring to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2015 Report, it is said that nearly 1.2 million people die each year and 20-50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries due to road crashes. To experts on road safety measures, there are fundamentally three major factors behind road accidents with 67 percent of them becoming ascribable to human error, 28 percent to poor infrastructure and deteriorating condition of road and 5 percent to unfit vehicles. Given this, if all these components are considered while constructing roads, the number of accidents could be reduced significantly, they say. Ignorance of traffic rules is in sum, yet another major cause of fatal road accidents. If the citizens follow traffic rules, a number of precious human lives can be protected. It is revealed startlingly that if the number of road accidents does not decline, it could become the third major cause of death say experts. It was divulged that teenagers were more than five times at risk to get into accidents than drivers aged 30 and above and in Karachi, the average fatality age due to road accidents is put at 29 years.

It is said that Pakistan ranked first in Asia and 48th in the world for most deaths caused by traffic accidents. Referring to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2015 Report, it is said that nearly 1.2 million people die each year and 20-50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries due to road crashes.

Another cause of accidents on the KKH can be ascribed to driving by only one driver along this tortuous route. NATCO first introduced alternating driving by two halving the total distance which is indeed an efficacious method and plugs the apprehensions of being overpowered by sleep the driver person. In smaller vehicles like cars etc., singly driven by a person, accidental hazards loom large because of this phenomenon as has happened in the past.

Traffic Crashes on KKH:

It is equally to be noted that on this long routes, accidents often occur in the wee hours which is well a pointer in the direction that the drivers can be overtaken by sleep then. It is to be recalled that a fatal car accident occurred on 07.02.2017 near Pattan , Kohistan when it skidded off the road and fell  far below while negotiating a turn. It was beseated by a famous businessman from Gilgit Haji Farman Ali Shigri and a family belonging to Danyore. The driver, it is said, belonged to Attock district and was not used to the terrain. It was believed that the driver was under the spell of sleep and, perhaps dozed off at that point on the highway which led to the accident.  The traffic history on KKH is replete with accidents of the sort. This brings it to the fore that firstly the driver must be used to the specific terrain he is plying the vehicle whilst feeling comfortable without being overpowered by slee. Naturally, on this long tortuous route, one singly driving a vehicle at a stretch sleeplessly all the way between Rawalpindi and Gilgit and vice versa, as alluded to earlier, can be overtaken or else to by sleep enroute.  This can be well avoided by light vehicle drivers by having sufficient rest midway which however, doesn’t become possible for those of the heavy vehicles – buses and coaches until and unless another driver to assume driving from onwards is arranged. In their case, it becomes inevitable that such a vehicle is co-driven by two i.e one for the first half of the total distance while the other for the second half up to destination enroute to Rawalpindi from Gilgit and vice versa.

Viewed the phenomenon holistically, the relevant officials responsible for enforcement of the traffic laws are required to gear up efforts to curb reckless driving within Gilgit, Skardu and other district headquarters with a special focus on the reckless biking on the KKH. The latter needs a special mention because innumerable bike accidents along the KKH in between Danyore and Hunza have taken place with a great number of youth losing their lives. Thus sad phenomenon became ascribable to  the tempestuous speed to which the reckless bikers resorted to often without wearing crash-helmets. The traffic officials instead of enforcing helmet-wearing in the city where no such speed is resorted to because of jam-packed roads, should focus attention on the KKH for such enforcements besides taking measures aimed at forcing the bikers to bring down speed to avoid traffic hazards while impounding the bikes and imposing fine on the individuals concerned. Even two days ago, a fatal bike accident occurred on the KKH in front of Sehhat Foundation Hospital Danyore when the ill-fated bike collided with a tractor causing instant death. Another hazardous situation persists within city is the plying of public transport Suzukis for instance those driven in Danyore-Gilgit route within these places can be seen with passengers perched on what is called the foot-plate (paidan) of each. If God-forbid, the fragile foot-plate=breaking occur anytime, there can be a great loss of human life. One is bewildered at such scenes directly resulting from dereliction of duty of the concerned traffic staff and remiss of those at the helm of affairs. Another point to ponder is the improper utilization of the existing grand RCC bridge in Gilgit which has the in-built capacity of sustaining double-heavy traffic over it. For instance, the Suzukis entering Gilgit city from Danyore are forced to divert towards the bailey and wooden suspension bridges at China Bagh illogically. This is despite the fact that the latter do not have that capacity to sustain a ceaseless traffic as opposed to the RCC bridge in question. Moreover, their overuse can lead to unnecessary expenditure incurable on their repairs frequently – something becoming avoidable by diverting vehicular traffic towards the RCC bridge.

As had been noted, there is a great stress on wearing helmet by bikers within Gilgit city which oft-remains jam-packed with excessive traffic where vehicles literally creep on that score. Bikers then, cannot resort to rah driving in the given landscape. Imposing fines for speedy driving or for that matter, parking a bike by one aside can be shunned and focus be shifted to traffic on accident-prone roads and highways.

In conclusion, what the heart-rending Gitidas tragedy calls for the strict enforcement of traffic laws and periodic examination of public transport vehicles under the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1965 in order to curb the fatalities.

The writer is a Gilgit-based freelance contributor, blogger. He can be reached at: shamskazmi.syed@gmail.com

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