Md Joynal Abedin Khan :
The traffic system has virtually collapsed as instructions and recommendations from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and other institutions to ply vehicles systematically remained almost ..." /> Logo

Roads, highways in total chaos


Md Joynal Abedin Khan :
The traffic system has virtually collapsed as instructions and recommendations from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and other institutions to ply vehicles systematically remained almost unheeded causing rise in accidents on national roads and highways.
At least 44 forums, councils and committees led by ministers, secretaries, transport experts and leaders have been formed since 2012 to bring discipline on traffic system.
According to transport-related sources, several dozens of instructions and recommendations were prepared and sent to the Roads and Bridges Division Ministry and concerned offices for their proper implementation to ensure road safety.
The recommendations suggested for recruitment of permanent drivers for passenger buses, alternative drivers on long-distance routes, ban on human haulers and other battery-run and unfit vehicles. They also recommended for stopping extortion and arrangement of separate lanes for slow-transports.  
Thousands of human haulers and nosimon-karimon
vehicles are seen plying on 22 national roads and highways defying the High Court (HC) order of 2008.
The law enforcers sometimes feel embarrass to take actions against unfit and non- permitted vehicles as the drivers get verbal permission from transport leaders, and ruling party men.
The sources further said that owners and worker associations' leaders collect extortion of Tk 60 lakh per day from transport sector. So, it is impossible to restore discipline on transport system without the strict enforcement of law.
More than 25,120 people were killed and 62,482 others injured in road accidents across the country in the past three and a half years. According to a report prepared by the Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (JKS) and the Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) 20 people are killed in Bangladesh every day.
On August 17, the Prime Minister's Office issued a set of directives asking the authorities concerned to take up different measures, including keeping doors of the running buses always closed except the designated stopping points to ensure road safety across the country.
The directives came from a meeting of the Governance Innovation Unit (GIU) of the PMO on "Development of Traffic System in Dhaka City" held at the PMO on Thursday.
Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Md. Nojibur Rahman chaired the meeting while GIU Deputy Director Mohammad Ali Newaz Russell made a power-point presentation on the occasion.
The directives were given about transport management, road management, fitness and license of vehicles and dissemination of government steps through mass media.
Earlier in 2015, the PMO office also issued 29-point directives to keep roads and highways fit as per traffic rules.
In 2012, the National Roads Security Council also issued 86 recommendations, including limiting the highest speed to 80 km per hour for long distance buses on highways, 60 km for goods-laden transports and ban on slow-speed vehicles on national roads.      
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has questioned the role of police and BRTA in checking unfit vehicles on roads and asked them to go tough on such vehicles.
Professor Shamsul Hoque, a Civil Engineering Teacher at BUET said, "The government neglects road safety issue. It does not consider the losses caused by road crashes as a serious issue."
He also pointed out that the ministries concerned have neither concerns nor skilled manpower. "The problem cannot be resolved only by passing law. The entire process must be changed."
"If government does not ban import of human haulers then it is not possible to free the highways," said Kazi Shifun Newaz, ARI Researcher and BUET teacher.
Ashish Kumar Dey, General Secretary of National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR), said, lack of proper supervision and people's awareness were the major reasons behind the greater number of road crashes.
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, Secretary General of the National Road Transport Owners Association of Bangladesh, said, "It is not possible to say when the discipline of transport sector will be restored. But we are trying to take necessary steps considering the road safety."
Atiqul Islam, Additional Inspector General (Highways) of Police, has told The New Nation, "We have taken effective steps to run the busses on highways smoothly."