Road safety promises remain unfulfilled

PMO directives go unheeded

Anaet Shawon

20 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The directives of the Prime Minister’s Office for ensuring road safety went unheeded due to the negligence of authorities concerned in making the roads safe for pedestrians and commuters.

Amid the inaction of the authorities concerned, pedestrians, commuters and passengers continue to be victims of road crashes and reckless driving in Dhaka and elsewhere of the country.

In the wake of massive student protests last year, the PMO asked the authorities concerned to take measures against the underage and unlicensed drivers in Dhaka’s public transportation system.

But the road safety campaigners say the authorities concerned turned a deaf ear to the directives as unlicensed drivers with unfit vehicles continue to ply the roads, putting the lives of pedestrians and commuters at risk.

The serious lack of measures to bring discipline on the roads was proved again by the tragic death of Abrar Ahmed, a student of Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), mainly caused by reckless driving by the driver of a passenger bus.

At least 6552 people were killed in accidents in different parts of the country in the last 751 days, according to a media reports.

Noted journalist Syed Abul Maksud, a vocal for road safety, said the situation will improved if the directives of PMO are implemented.

“But authorities concerned turned a deaf ear to the directives,” he said, adding, “The prime minister’s directives went unheeded, that means the administration did not perform its duty properly and there is no accountability for it.”

The much-talked road safety issue came to front amid the spontaneous movement of students and the general public after two students of Dhaka’s the Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed by a bus on Airport Road. 

To bring discipline and ensure road safety, the Road Transport Act-2018 was passed in Jatiya Sangsad on September 20 in last year, while National Road Safety Council (NRSC) held a meeting to formulate recommendations for preventing road accidents and bringing discipline in the roads.    

After the mass movement, the government launched a set of crash programmes to restore discipline in transportation and traffic order, and ensure road safety.

The Governance Innovation Unit, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Dhaka north and south city corporations, Dhaka public administration office, ministry of education, scout and arm forces division and ministry of information ministry were tasked with implementing the crash programmes.

Under the crash programme, course of action was supposed to be taken for establishing order in the transport system, road management, issuing license and renewal of fitness of vehicles and all-out campaigns in the media to raise awareness about road safety.

Under these programmes, the authority concerned were expected to take actions against unfit and illegal vehicles, make the fitness process transparent, cancel the route permit of faulty mass transport services and accelerating the vehicle registration process.

All vehicles should shut their doors while moving, driver and helpers have to carry identity cards with photographs, phone number and license numbers and busses will not board on and off passengers without the designated bus stations, as per the directives.

It was also decided that bikers will not be allowed to ply on the roads without helmets and with more than two passengers.

Seat belt rules were supposed to be enforced on drivers, helpers and passengers on the highways.

Authorities were also asked to take effective measures so that none can cross the roads within hundred meters of any underpasses or overpasses. Security was said to be ensured in the underpass areas with sufficient number of closed-circuit cameras. 

There has been a recommendation for importing modern vehicle shredders for scrapping unfit and unregistered vehicles on spot.

But most of the recommendations and planned initiatives were not implemented.