Extending his full support to students' ongoing movement for safe roads, popular film star of yesteryears and founder of Nirapad Sarak Chai (We Demand Safe Roads) movement Ilias Kanchan said, “We have lost our faith in the state machinery. However, since the prime minister has given assurances this time, I want to hope that things will change for the better.”
“I have been pressing demands over the last 25 years so unfit vehicles, and vehicles without registration and road permits are not allowed to run on the streets; and drivers should have proper training and licenses. But the authorities paid no heed to them,” lamented the pioneering road safety campaigner.
Students this time have put forward the same demands. “I couldn't imagine they would do what they have done: embarrass a lawmaker in public by reminding him of traffic rules, and stop police vehicles on roads for not having papers and driving licenses.
“They are embarrassing us adults. We have failed to exercise our responsibilities. These children are doing what we couldn't do,” said Ilias Kanchan, who has been carrying a rigorous campaign demanding safe roads since the tragic demise of his wife, Jahanara Kanchan, in a road crash in 1993.
To express solidarity with the demonstrators, he said his organisation will hold a human chain at the Jatiya Press Club at 11:00am today.
Talking about legal protection of passengers of public vehicles, Ilias said the government had not incorporated the suggestions he made in the draft of the new Road Transport Act.
The act completely overlooks issues like drivers' training -- not only in driving but also in behaviour, healthcare of passengers after falling victim to road accidents, compensation and other factors that would ensure their safety on roads, he said.
“It [the act] should have been titled Road Safety and Transport Act. The safety elements have been dropped.”