Asianbangla, Dhaka :Jahangir Fakir has spent the last 30 years of his life at the wheel as a professional bus driver.
He believed his daughter Dia Khanam Mim would one day realise her dream of becoming a banker. Little did he know that her life would be cut tragically short by a reckless bus driver.
“We tried our best to help her fulfil her dream. But all our hopes have shattered,” a grieving Jahangir Fakir told The Daily Star at the Kurmitola General Hospital.
Mim, 17, was one of the two college students crushed to death by a bus yesterday on Airport Road near Radisson Blu Dhaka.
The first-year student of Shaheed Bir Bikram Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College left home at Mohakhali’s Dakkhinpara with her mother around 7:30am yesterday, he said between sobs.
Hours later, someone called Jahangir over the phone and told him about the fatal crash.
Struggling to regain his composure, Jahangir, also former executive member of Dhaka District Bus and Minibus Workers’ Union, said most road crashes took place because of “unskilled drivers”.
In recent years, transport owners have been trying to hire drivers for as little pay as possible. They hire anyone willing to work for a small sum. As a result, many unskilled drivers are at the wheels, Jahangir said.
As there are two hospitals and a college in the area, any skilled driver would have been very cautious, he said.
“But, I heard from witnesses that two drivers were racing when the crash took place.
“I demand stringent punishment for the driver and his employers.
“Many bus owners recruit drivers considering relationship and recommendations of known people without properly examining their driving skill. By doing this, they [recruiters] are virtually giving them [unskilled drivers] the licence to kill,” he said.
Many drug addicts are becoming professional drivers, he went on.
“I even saw drivers taking drugs while driving,” he said, adding, “Many of them don’t have the minimum training and basic knowledge on driving.
“We often warn owners against recruiting such unskilled drivers, but nothing has changed.”
Meanwhile, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan was irked by reporters telling him that drivers had become reckless because he had overlooked their faults.
“A road crash has claimed 33 lives in India’s Maharashtra; but do they talk about it like the way we do?” he asked.
Shahjahan, also executive president of Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation, said at his office in secretariat that persons responsible for road crashes would be punished.