The country will not see expected development if road safety cannot be ensured, road safety crusader Ilias Kanchan said yesterday.
“If the government takes necessary steps considering road accidents as number one challenge, then, I believe, road accident figure will come down. The country will be safe. Development will be accelerated,” he said.
Ilias Kanchan, chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai, said this at the 8th grand rally of the organisation at Mohanagar Natya Mancha in Gulistan. The theme of the programme was “If You Want Development; Ensure Road Safety.”
The actor-turned-road safety campaigner made the comments at a time when the country is witnessing increasing number of road accidents, making it one of the most talked about issues in the country.
According to police, 2,635 people were killed in 2,609 road crashes last year. At least 2,513 people had died in 2,562 accidents in 2017.
The figures are significantly lower than that of two road safety organisations, but even with these figures, it would be impossible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to halve the number of deaths on roads by next year, experts and road safety campaigners say.
Ilias said complete development is not possible without ensuring road safety, and if road accidents cannot be brought down to 50 percent, then expected development is not possible.
Talking about a committee led by former shipping minister Shajahan Khan comprising transport workers leaders, and its 111-point recommendation to curb road accidents and bring discipline in road transport sector, Ilias said this is an opportunity for the government.
“Because, the committee is led by people who used to oppose enactment of rules and regulations… As they are leading the work, implementation [of the recommendations] will not face obstacles,” Ilias, also a member of the committee, said.
“Implementation will now totally depend on the willingness of the government,” he said.
Eight out of 22 members of the committee are involved in transport organisations that are often blamed for the very indiscipline they will seek to put an end to.
Speaking at the event, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, however, said the movement of Nirapad Sarak Chai should not be confined for safe road only; it should be for safe communication that include rail, river and air transport.
Road transport carries about 80 percent of the country's total passenger and cargo volume, and this dependency must be reduced, he said, adding that there should be balance among road, rail and shipping sectors.
State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak emphasised proper design of road and rail lines, not appointing drivers without proper licence, awareness among people about road use and traffic rules for safety in the transport sector.
He opined for incorporating road safety issues in textbook from first to twelfth grades.
Prof Md Shamsul Hoque, former director of Accident Research Institute at Buet, said safety issues are often ignored while government takes different development projects in road transport sector.
He said examining fitness of several lakh vehicles by a few motor vehicle inspectors is nothing but absurd imagination.
LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Tajul Islam, Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam and Bangladesh Railway Director General Qazi Md Rafiqul Alam, among others, spoke the programme.