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24 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Bringing discipline on roads

Panel to submit 111-point report

Panel to submit 111-point report

A panel on road safety, led by former Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, has prepared a draft report with 111 recommendations to instil road discipline. The report is expected to be submitted soon. Shajahan Khan told reporters a list of 111 recommendations had been prepared to ensure discipline in the road transport sector and prevent accidents. They would be submitted to the ministries concerned by April 4.

Road safety issues came to the fore last July, when the death of two college students in Dhaka led to a mass protest movement that drew attention to the high incidence of road accident deaths in the country. The report stresses political commitment as the most important factor in reducing the risk of road accidents and instilling road discipline.

The committee’s recommendations emphasise road safety, development of road infrastructure, adoption of steps to prevent accidents, creation of road safety awareness among the people, and training and raising the awareness of drivers.

The report has also addressed some of the road safety demands raised by student protesters.

The high-level committee states that one of the major challenges in formulating recommendations on road safety is the limited time to implement them. The recommendations have, hence, been divided into four phases.

Those that can be implemented immediately should be completed by this December, the short-term plans by 2021, and the long-term plans by 2024, the report says.

Earlier, on February 17, the government formed a 15-member committee led by Shajahan Khan to find ways to prevent road accidents and bring discipline to the road transport sector.

Shajahan Khan, also former shipping minister, is the executive president of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, an umbrella organisation that has under its fold at least 235 transport workers’ unions. The federation represents more than 60 lakh workers.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader announced the formation of the new committee after the 26th meeting of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) at the head office of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.

Obaidul Quader had described road safety as the government’s “biggest concern” at that time. The cabinet, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, issued several orders to improve road safety amidst the protests.

The committee was formed on February 27 as part of the remedial efforts with representatives from transport owners, workers, police, researchers and the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.

Police have conducted several Traffic Week events and other campaigns to raise awareness, but the death toll from road accidents has only continued to climb.

Students took to the streets again on March 19 at Dhaka’s Pragati Sharani after a university student was run over and killed by a bus.

The report stresses the importance of political commitment because any failure to meet these requirements would only mean the issue would linger.

Bangladesh Transport Owners Association President Mashiur Rahman Ranga, the Jatiya Party secretary general and the chief whip of the parliamentary opposition, is the committee’s member secretary.

The panel also includes other representatives from road transport owners and workers, journalists and road safety activists.

The panel’s first recommendation is to take steps to increase general awareness of road safety issues.

The report recommends free public service messages on road safety rules and the raising of

awareness through various media forms, including advertisements, billboards and even bus tickets.

The panel also recommends adding traffic laws and road safety issues to the curriculum of Grades I to X.

The report recommends that the BRTA take the initiative to implement this course of action. It also suggests that private businesses can be given low-interest loans to open driving schools.

The committee says 1,000 driving instructors should be assigned by 2020, partially by hiring retired security force personnel as instructors.

The report also states that women drivers “take fewer risks” and thus recommends that new opportunities be introduced for women drivers and to raise the number of women employed as drivers.

The report states that advanced training is required for traffic police on issues of road safety, acquiring accident information, investigating accidents and behaviour. They also say initiatives should be taken to treat those injured in road crashes as quickly as possible.

The recommendations also include plans for road infrastructure development and maintenance, which includes removing obstacles and obstruction on footpaths, the construction of new pedestrian walkways, construction of raised zebra crossings in front of schools, colleges and religious institutions and the barricading of parts of roads for pedestrians.

The report also suggests removing barriers from roads, keeping a 20-metre distance between highways and nearby buildings and to relocate the entrances of any shops near such highways to the opposite side of the building.

It also recommends removing manholes and dustbins from roads and to flatten manholes that cannot be removed so as to prevent accidents.

The report suggests the banning of makeshift vehicles from highways and making separate lanes for motorcycles.

Recommendations for reducing traffic accidents in urban areas include the franchising of bus routes to prevent competitive driving, installation of mobile trackers in vehicles, removing rickshaws from Dhaka roads, limiting the number of ride-sharing vehicles and only selling motorcycles to licence holders.

The panel said that strict measures should be taken to punish any drivers talking on their mobile phones or listening to music on headphones while driving. Any public transport must display photos and identities of drivers and helpers, with their licence numbers and phone numbers, in a place visible to passengers.

The committee has recommended the formation of a road safety authority under the supervision of the prime minister.

The report has also recommended the full implementation of the road, water transport and rail policy. Any road development project must allocate 5 percent of its total funds to road safety initiatives, the committee said.

The panel has recommended the simplification of procedure in giving accident victims insurance payments and compensation.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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