Three days after he took charge of Road Transport and Bridges Ministry for the third term in January, Obaidul Quader had said bringing the road transport sector under discipline will be his first priority.
Taking charge in May after two months of illness, Quader reiterated that ensuring discipline in road transport would be the “biggest challenge in my second innings”.
When a reporter yesterday asked him what would be his main challenge in 2020, Quader said: “My first, second and last words would be [bringing] discipline.”
Responding to how successful he has been in bringing discipline to the road transport sector this year, Quader said, “No. I haven’t. We have to go a long way.”
Quader, also general secretary of the ruling Awami League, was speaking at a press briefing on current issues at his secretariat office yesterday.
Indiscipline in road transport sector and accidents hogged headlines over the last couple of years, with the country witnessing two major student protests for safe roads.
Thousands of youths took to the streets in the capital after two college students were run over by a bus in July last year.
Terming the protests an “eye opener”, different government bodies, police, and transport leaders made many promises and took some hasty steps.
But the situation on the roads remained almost same with increasing number of road crashes taking toll on lives and properties.
Following the demos, the parliament passed Road Transport Act-2018 in September last year -- aiming to bring the sector under discipline. The government, however, could not start implementation of the act until last month.
Transport workers protested it, forcing the authorities to relax several crucial sections of the law till June next year.
Asked whether they have any deadline to implement the law, Quader replied in negative.
He said they have taken some new initiatives and there are some recommendations to bring discipline on the roads.
A task force, headed by home minister, has already held a meeting and started implementation of those recommendations, he added.
Taking part in a seminar of Roads and Highways Department on Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid sternly criticised RHD officials for poor planning and maintenance of roads -- wasting public money and causing immense suffering.
Asked about it, Quader said, “I have spoken to the finance minister. It was actually a misunderstanding.”