Three months have elapsed since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s directive to bring drivers under a dope testing system to ascertain whether they use drugs, the authorities concerned are yet to start the medical examination.
Officials of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) said they have no exact idea when the testing will begin as it involves a lot of issues.Meanwhile, BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder told the Daily Sun that a committee has been formed to implement the prime minister’s directive. “The committee has determined the methodology, places and relevant issues to conduct the dope test. It has already submitted its recommendations.”
They will now send those recommendations to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry for its approval, he said.
All drivers must undergo dope test to prevent accidents and ensure that no drug users are driving on roads, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said while addressing an event on the occasion of the National Road Safety Day on October 22 last.
Drug addition among transport workers, including drivers, is considered as one of the major reasons behind road accidents in the country. It has long been alleged that many drivers of public transport take drugs.
After the prime minister’s directive, transport owners and workers promised to take steps to carry out dope test for drivers but nothing has yet been done.
However, transport workers’ leaders said they occasionally arrange dope test at Gabtoli in the capital.Transport experts have welcomed the government’s initiative, saying since many drivers and their assistants are drug addicts, there will be a better outcome if the dope test is arranged.
At the end of last year, three bus workers tried to rape a college student on a moving bus in Dirai upazila of Sunamganj after they found her alone at the vehicle.
After the arrest of the three bus workers, it was learned that they were all drug addicts.
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association, said they had first announced dope testing for drivers but it did not happen for various reasons. “Then the prime minister issued the fresh directive. The BRTA has also formed a committee to this end. However, nothing has yet been finalised.”
“Since it requires a variety of issues, including medical examination, it may take some time to adjust the action plan. Besides, there’s an issue of budget as every dope test will cost around Tk 900 as per the recommendations of the committee,” the BRTA chairman said.
He expressed the hope that the action plan will be finalised very soon. “After that we can start the dope test,” he added.
Kazi Md Saifun Newaz, an assistant professor of Accident Research Institute at Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology, told the Daily Sun: “In order to ensure road safety, dope testing is important so that no one under the influence of narcotics or alcohol can be at the steering.”
If a driver takes drugs while driving, it can be the cause of accident, he said, adding that due to the effects of drugs, transport workers also do indecent behaviour with passengers.
Newaz said crimes on roads as well as accidents will come down to a large extent if the dope test for the transport workers begins.
He also said the number of drug addicted drivers will also fall with the start of the dope test. “If we can create healthy transport drivers and their assistants, crimes on roads as well as accidents will come down.”