The government yesterday formed a “high-level” taskforce led by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan to curb road accidents and bring discipline in the transport sector.
The taskforce will work on implementing 111 recommendations placed by a committee led by former minister Shajahan Khan in April.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader announced the formation of the taskforce after the 27th meeting of National Road Safety Council (NRSC) at BRTA Headquarters in the capital’s Banani.
It is not clear when the taskforce will start working, although Quader said it will begin functioning “soon”. The government is yet to issue a gazette in this regard.
The taskforce will be comprised of the inspector general of police; secretaries to the relevant ministries; chief executive officers of two Dhaka city corporations; chiefs of Roads and Highways Department, Local Government Engineering Department, BRTA, BRTC and Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority; and representatives from transport owners and workers organisations.
Transport expert Prof Shamsul Haque, noted columnist Syed Abul Maksud and Nirapad Sarak Chai Chairman Ilias Kanchan will also be its members while secretary to the Road Transport and Highway Division will be its member secretary.
The taskforce has been formed as per recommendations of the Shajahan Khan-led committee, which were also adopted by the Council yesterday with some changes.
Amid growing concerns over road crashes, the committee was formed in the last NRSC meeting in February.
But assigning Shajahan Khan, executive president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, as chief of the committee drew huge criticism as his organisation is often blamed for anarchy in the sector.
The committee on April 28 submitted its report to the prime minister with 111-point recommendation. The existing laws, guidelines and reports of other committees already cover many of those.
Obaidul Quader, also general secretary of Awami League, said on several occasions, different proposals or recommendations were submitted, but the implementation process had been very slow.
“So, we have formed the high-powered taskforce to expedite their implementation,” he said.
ROAD TRANSPORT ACT 2018
The parliament in September last year passed the Road Transport Act 2018 but the government did not issue any necessary gazette in this regard.
In the February 18 NRSC meeting, a three-minister committee was formed to look into how the act can be implemented.
Yesterday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who led the committee, said they will finalise their decision within a week, after meeting with transport leaders. Law Minister Anisul Huq and Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan are also members of the committee.
Transport workers have been protesting several sections of the new act and demanding that those are amended, before making the act effective.
SAME OLD ISSUE
At yesterday’s meeting, participants spent a significant amount of time discussing how to control three-wheelers on highways, terming those a major reason for road accidents.
Plying of three-wheelers on 22 national highways remains banned, and the issue had been discussed in almost all meetings related to transport sector in last few years. But operation of these vehicles continues.
Yesterday, Quader sought advice on how to control these vehicles since it was difficult to completely ban them as a huge number of low-income people are involved.
Quader also said these vehicle owners and drivers get backing from local politicians as they consider them as vote banks.
When IGP Mohammad Javed Patwary said import of these vehicle should be stopped, a participant said that decision was taken several years back but could not be implemented.
Road Transport and Highway Division Secretary Nazrul Islam said a committee led by an additional secretary of his division is working on the issue.
IGP also called for not to give approval to any building without having parking facilities and setting up dumping grounds for errant and unfit vehicles.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, Shajahan Khan, Jatiya Party lawmaker Mashiur Rahman Ranga, also the president of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, were present at the meeting, among others.