80km the max
In yet another impromptu move, the government yesterday decided that speed limiters would be installed in all modes of transports on highways to cap their speeds to 80kmph with an aim to check road accidents.
The decision was made at a meeting of the National Road Safety Council without any discussion on how it would be implemented and by whom.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia and two officials of Highway Police strongly supported the idea placed in the meeting by President of Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners Association Sohel Talukder.
Sohel, also owner of Sohag Paribahan Ltd, said speed governing devices were installed in all the buses of his company which considerably reduced the number of accidents of his buses.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, who chaired the meeting, said the decision on speed governors was taken to reduce road accidents.
He did not say when they would be installed, how and by whom.
Officials of the ministry later told The Daily Star that a gazette notification would be issued regarding the decision.
One of them observed, “There should be detailed discussions before making such decisions.”
An official said the condition of the highways, on which vehicles could hardly run at 80kmph, the national speed limit, should be taken into consideration.
In the developed world, speed limiters are used on heavy vehicles like lorries and trucks. A few countries have speed limiters for both buses and cars but set different limits for them.
Bangladesh has 21,000km of highways on which around 15 lakh vehicles operate, estimate transport operators.
“We just made a decision. We will discuss with the experts and work out how it can be implemented,” Road Division Secretary MAN Siddique told The Daily Star last night.
In 2008, the High Court directed the government to install “speed governor seals” on all modes of public transport, like bus, minibus and truck, in the country.
In its ruling, the HC made compliance with its orders mandatory by March 10, 2009, as the court took cognisance of growing incidence of traffic mishaps largely due to rash driving.
But Bangladesh Road Transport Authority faced difficulties in implementing the decision as limiters were available only for diesel vehicles.
A separate device had to be built for gas, octane and petrol vehicles, which had then become a major obstacle to implementing the decision within the deadline.
Yesterday's meeting also decided to strengthen the enforcement of the ban on three-wheelers and slow-moving vehicles on highways.
"We have decided to construct separate lane for slow-moving vehicles on highways," he said, but did not mention any tentative timeframe for its construction.
In the meeting, leaders of transport owners and workers associations demanded the government's effective steps to end extortion.
About education of drivers, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon and State Minister for Post and Telecommunication Tarana Halim opined making mandatory for drivers to have a certain level of educational qualification.
But Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation General Secretary Osman Ali and State Minister for LGRD Mashiur Rahman Ranga opposed the idea.
The meeting also decided not to set up cattle markets beside highways to ensure smooth traffic movement during Eid.
In the capital, cattle market will be set up at Uttara, Purbachol and Hazaribagh, instead of Agargaon, Banani and Babubazar.
Additionally, the exit and entry to the capital will be repaired ahead of Eid, the meeting decided.
The government had over the years banned several types of vehicles from using the highways but enforcement of the bans had eventually weathered.
It banned CNG-run three wheelers on highways earlier this month.