We welcome the move by the Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association which declared on August 7 that contractual driving of city buses would end and that drivers will receive monthly salaries. This move, if implemented, should check to a large extent the mindless and reckless driving where buses race against one another to maximise profit. Had the decision come much earlier, a lot of unnecessary deaths and injuries could have been avoided.
This is a good beginning, but we would like to suggest a few more measures that the transport owners should employ to affect a marked improvement in ensuring safe roads. Although drivers are now going to be put on a payroll, we believe that bus companies have a responsibility in carrying out yearly medical check up for drivers to determine whether a driver is fit to be on the road or not. We endorse the prime minister's suggestion that no driver should be on the road for more than five hours at a stretch and this can be done if bus companies hire more drivers so that there is rotation of duty. This must be made mandatory, particularly for night-time driving where driver fatigue invariably ends in disaster. Another issue is that of ensuring the vehicle is fit for the road. There should not be any short cuts allowed here because a fully functional bus is an essential prerequisite for safety on roads and whilst it may entail more maintenance cost for transport companies, there can be no compromise here.