Noor Akbar Gohar
Twenty one years old Mahfouz was a student of 2nd year. He belonged to Gitch village of Punial Ghizer. He was hit by a fast moving car from behind at a nearby village, Goharabad, while he was riding a bike. Mahfouz was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to severe head injuries sustained during the accident.
This is not the story of only one young person who lost his life in a traffic accident. There is hardly a day that goes without a terrific road accident in Gilgit-Baltistan, causing loss of precious human lives.
The number of traffic accidents has increased in Gilgit-Baltistan in the last few years owing to multitude of reasons.
One of the reasons behind these tragic incidents on roads is naive and amateur drivers. One cannot claim to master the skill of driving by just taking steering of a vehicle in hands. For safe and responsible driving, one needs to go through proper training and practice.
Unfortunately,it has become a fashion to get to roads without proper training and practice in Gilgit-Baltistan. Such people don’t have the faintest idea about when to use indicators; dim head lights, reduce the speed at turns and populated areas; and when to overtake safely.
Similarly, smoking and using mobile phone while driving is a common thing among many of the people while driving, risking their and others life.
Moreover,high speed, driving under drunk condition and without taking proper sleep and rest are also main causes increasing road fatalities in area. Among many others, one of the causes of traffic accidents on KKH is driving without taking proper rest and sleep.
It is the responsibility of the government to ensure provision of safe and efficient transport system but the condition of roads in the area is far worse than one can imagine. Roads damaged by land sliding, flash floods and eroded by rivers are not repaired for years. They get repaired only when a VVIP movement happens to occur, only to worsen in the next few days.
Traffic police has adopted a ceremonial role in case of Gilgit-Baltistan. Traffic wardens can only be seen at VIP sites where movement of military personnel, bureaucrats and officials of the government takes place. Their role with regard to regulate safe and efficient trafficking is very pathetic.
To bring a reduction in road accidents following remedial measures can be taken by the government.
Training centers for driving can be established train drivers and inculcate traffic values and ethics in citizens. Similarly, license should be awarded only to those people who have got trained and recommended by these centers.
Existing roads should be made safe for driving and those damaged should be timely repaired. Likewise, turns where accidents take place repetitively should be cut and made less dangerous.
Similarly, the role of traffic police need to be revitalized to keep check on violation of traffic rules.
Safe and visible speed breakers can be made in populated areas, near schools, hospitals and other places of public and community gathering.
Vehicles which are not maintained properly should be banned. Only those vehicles should be allowed which are well maintained and are in good condition. In cities clearance certificates are given to owners after the vehicles are found in good condition whereas in GB there is no such practice that has left people at the mercy of passenger transport which are in miserable condition.
Inter-district passenger vehicles are usually overloaded with bulky goods on their roofs, becoming vulnerable to road accidents. Therefore,it is very important to ensure that mini passenger vans do not carry loads that might cause any untoward eventuality.
Are authorities and society at large ready to act and do something practicable with regard to increasing traffic accidents? Lest, I am concerned, we will have to wait for more lives to be lost?