Education not must for drivers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 19, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 19, 2011

Education not must for drivers

Says shipping minister; experts shocked

A driver does not need to be educated to get a driving licence, said Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan yesterday while trying to clarify his position on recommending 24,000 people for driving licences without tests.
During a press conference held at his ministry's conference room yesterday, he said if a driver can sign his name, can understand traffic signs and signals, can differentiate between a cow and a goat and has good driving skills, what is the problem in giving him a licence?
His recommendations had generated a lot of media outburst and eminent citizens observed that the shipping minister is actually recommending to let loose 24,000 potential killers on the country's roads.
Shahjahan is the president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation which recommended that those drivers be given Bangladesh Road Transport Authority licences without holding written tests.
During the conference, organised with the sole purpose to clarify his position following the media criticism, Shahjahan said they did not request the authority to give driving licences without any tests. They only requested to exempt them from written tests.
When asked about the educational qualification required for a driver, an official of BRTA said according to the rules, a person has to be able to read and write properly to get a licence since a written test required.
Prof Shamsul Hoque, who was involved in the accident research centre of Buet, said education is a must for safe driving. "There are many drivers in the country who are skilled but they are not safe," he said, adding that education is mandatory in every country to get a driving licence.
An educated driver knows what to do in a situation; where an uneducated driver does not, he said.
The recommendation made by Shahjahan Khan was heavily criticised by friends and families of Saturday's Manikganj tragedy.
In a mourning rally, organised by the Mass Communication and Journalism Department of Dhaka University, Manjuly Kazi, widow of media personality Mishuk Munier, said, “So, they [the government] are creating another 24,000 killers.”
She sarcastically said the government should kill everyone with a bomb rather than one by one on the roads.
At the rally eminent actress Rokeya Prachi said another 24,000 killers are coming. She urged all to protest Shahjahan's move.
Film actor and dedicated road-safety activist Elyas Kanchan said education is the first thing that should be checked before issuing a driving licence.
Newspaper reports say that the BRTA had already issued 10,000 driving licences in 2009 without taking any test following the minister's recommendation.
Yesterday Shahjahan tried to justify the recommendation to a department that is not under his ministry. He said there are 7,32,400 vehicles on the road but only 6,64,625 drivers with licences. He said eight lakh drivers in total are needed and that is why the federation sent a list of 24,630 skilled drivers to the BRTA.
It is not possible to get educated people to meet the huge demand for drivers, he added. Every year 44,000 new vehicles are registered but only 10,000 drivers get licences, said the minister.

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