The words uneducated, rowdy and lawbreaker are likely to pop up when anybody thinks of drivers in Bangladesh thanks to the existing indiscipline in the transport sector.
However, within this community, there are professionals who are law-abiding, caring and have been serving for years without having accidents.
Forty-eight such drivers were felicitated yesterday by the Road Safety Foundation, a private organisation that works for safe road and safe driving. Two of the awardees did not show up at the programme.
“Throughout my driving career I have always been rebuked, mostly for others' faults,” said Nurun Nabi, who has been in the profession for 32 years and lives in the capital's Kamrangirchar.
“Today I feel honoured,” said the 54-year-old driver after receiving “Skilled Transport Driver Award-2018” at Shawkat Osman Auditorium of the Central Public Library at Shahbagh.
Apart from drivers, two transport owners were also given “Responsible Transport Owner Award-2018” for doing the business with “proper management.”
They are Romesh Chandra Ghosh of Shyamoli Paribahan and Mostafa Azad Chowdhury of Agomoni Express.
About the initiative, Saidur Rahman, chief executive of the foundation, said there are many owners among the non-professional and profit mongering people who run the business properly.
Similarly, there are skilled drivers who operate vehicles with care, he observed.
“We think these responsible transport owners and skilled drivers should be recognised and honoured since recognition of one's good work makes them more responsible and encourages others,” he added.
They decided to award such responsible transport owners and drivers and named 50 drivers and two owners for the first time as award winners.
Talking to The Daily Star, Saidur said from 12,000 drivers who filled up their forms, they selected the 50 considering several aspects. No accident due to neglect in last 10 years, having all legal documents, not being an addict and not accused in a criminal case have been considered.
The two owners have been selected from a list of 10 who regularly interact with their drivers and advise them, consider drivers' and passengers' benefits, and are involved in social and cultural activities, he added.
At the programme, transport expert Prof Moazzem Hossain said the government and the political leadership cannot avoid the responsibility for the “uncontrolled” transport sector.
It is very difficult for the owners nowadays to make their business profitable. So, they, in many cases, force the drivers to compromise with safety and traffic rules, he observed.
It is true that everyone wants to blame the drivers for all the faults, said Prof Moazzem, a former director of the Accident Research Institute at Buet.
Talking about lack of training facility for drivers, he said a transport worker is exposed to the risk of accidents 20 times higher than a normal passenger, so the workers should be more vocal for road safety.
Prof Mohit Kamal, a prominent psychiatrist, said a driver must have control power, patience and attention and the owners should check these qualities before recruiting them.
Belal Ahmed, chairman of Janata Insurance Company Limited, which sponsored the programme, said giving felicitation to drivers is a good idea and his organisation would work for the betterment of the transport workers.
Workers leader Ali Reza, Janata Insurance's Managing Director Saadat R Khan and Vice-President of International Business Forum of Bangladesh MS Siddiqui also spoke at the programme chaired by Road Safety Foundation's Vice-Chairman MA Hamid Sharif.