Bangabandhu Restored the Communication Infrastructure After Homecoming

Hiren Pandit: Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman after returning home repaired all the damaged roads and bridges and restored the communication infrastructure. In 1974, he rebuilt all the bridges destroyed in the War of Liberation and made them usable, besides he built 490 km of new roads. In the first five-year plan the Bangladesh government gave priority to the road transport sector and started building a modern road network. Following the footsteps of the Father of the Nation, the government is working towards the implementation of the three five-year plans, Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and Vision & Perspective Plan 2041 for the expansion of seamless and time-saving transportation and goods transportation through safe road network development.
Apart from improving the quality of life, the comprehensive communication system across the country, including the multi-purpose Padma Bridge, which is self-financed, is also playing a significant role in the country’s economy. Along with the unprecedented development in the road transport system, the present government is considering the issue of strengthening the safe road system with great importance. The government aims to establish a modern, technologically advanced sustainable, and safe highway network. Automatic Motor Vehicle Fitness Center has been launched to ensure road safety.
Almost all services of BRTA have been digitized with the introduction of e-driving licenses, and 6-point guidelines are being implemented to ensure road safety. “Bangladesh Road Safety Project” is being implemented with the financial assistance of the World Bank and the financing of the Government of Bangladesh at five thousand crores. Apart from driver inefficiency and reckless driving, defective vehicles, and poor condition of roads and bridges are also largely responsible for road accidents. To handle the extra passengers in public transport, the transport companies force the drivers to work long hours due to the vicious competition of driving faster than the speed limit and making more trips. As a result, there is a kind of psychological pressure on the driver, he has to drive recklessly; which in turn becomes one of the causes of accidents. Old vehicles would be painted and repaired and plying on the roads during various festivals.
Additional passengers travel long distances risking their lives. The bus truck driver’s careless fight is going on the road-highway. They use cell phones while driving happily, which is identified as one of the causes of road accidents. Carrying passengers in goods vehicles, driving by unskilled drivers and helpers, unstoppable driving, free movement of auto-rickshaws, locally made three-wheelers and motorcycles on highways and overtaking on busy roads, overloading increase the risk of road accidents to a great extent. The Prime Minister gave five-point instructions to prevent road accidents. They were providing training to drivers and assistants, having alternate drivers on long-distance bus journeys and changing drivers every 5 hours, making it mandatory for drivers and passengers to wear seat belts, constructing restrooms for drivers on highways, and imposing strictures on signal-driven vehicles.
The improved transport system is also an indicator of economic progress. Bangladesh is achieving rapid economic growth and is a country with potential economies in the eyes of international research organizations. The government aims to become a developed country by 2041. A lot of work is going on with Bangladesh’s transport system to join the ranks of developing or middle-income countries. Motorcycle sales in Bangladesh have increased manifold. Drivers do not obey the rules of driving motorcycles on regional roads; Drivers and passengers do not wear helmets properly; No more than two people on a motorcycle are allowed; Unregistered motorcycles ply frequently at the district-upazila level; Many have no training in riding a motorcycle.
To overcome this situation, increase the initiative to create efficient drivers; Fixation of salary and working hours of drivers; Capacity building of BRTA; Ensure unhindered enforcement of traffic laws to transport operators, passengers, and pedestrians; Regulating the movement of low-speed vehicles on highways and creating separate service roads for them; Phased construction of road dividers on all highways; Stop extortion in public transport; Relieving pressure on roads by renovating and expanding railways and waterways; Formulation and implementation of sustainable transport strategies. Any accident is by no means desirable. How human lives are being lost on the road should be reduced in any way. Emphasis should be placed on safe road management. A sufficient number of driver training institutes should be established at public and private level to produce skilled drivers. Apart from this, the government should be stricter in stopping the movement of expired vehicles on the roads.
Road accidents are one of the leading causes of human death and injury worldwide. Road accidents are the eighth leading cause of accidental death for people of all ages. It has also been identified as the leading cause of death for children aged 5-29 years and younger. The report also notes that 90 percent of road accidents worldwide occur in low- and middle-income countries, three times more than in developed countries. The picture of road accident casualties is very similar among South Asian countries. In a survey conducted by the Department of Roads and Highways, Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, in 2016-17, economic losses, medical expenses, living expenses, vehicular and administrative losses and other calculations showed that a working person who suffers an accident is a fatal road.
The accident caused an economic loss of about 5 million taka. However, a fatal accident causes a loss of five lakh taka per person. Road accidents are a concern for developing countries like Bangladesh. Accidents affect both human and economic conditions. A cost estimate is modeled in the human capital approach. Average loss amount (in taka) Total loss amount is 49 lakh 69 thousand. The economic loss of a working person Government survey shows that the average economic loss due to the death of a working person in a road accident is Tk 24 lakh 72 thousand 108. In case of severe injuries, the average financial loss is BDT 21 thousand 98. 38% of road accidents are due to careless driving, and most of the drivers are not properly trained or rested in addition to their disobedience towards traffic rules. Most of the victims of road accidents are youth and involved in various economic activities.
The causes of road accidents and their magnitude of damage are multi-dimensional which hampers the overall economic development of every country. According to BIDS research, road accidents cause an economic loss of about 2 percent of GDP in Bangladesh every year. To keep road accidents to a tolerable level and to reduce the death, disability and illness of people caused by road accidents and related economic losses, the related organizations of the UN are making all efforts together with the public and private institutions of almost every member country. Notable among them is to take necessary actions and support the implementation of activities to achieve the SDGs to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in road accidents by 50 percent worldwide by 2030 and the “Global Plan for Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030” to ensure that effective procedures are identified and supported in their implementation, etc. The hope is that Bangladesh has expressed solidarity with these steps taken globally to reduce road accidents. Along with this, the necessary activities are being implemented after determining the appropriate course of action for their implementation.
In light of the Road Transport Act 2018, the Government’s efforts to strengthen road safety by updating the Road Transport Rules-2022 is a very important step and one of the commendable initiatives. To achieve the goals of the SDGs, the Road Transport and Highways Department of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has gazetted the “Road Transport Rules – 2022” annexing several significant provisions. The main purpose of adding these rules is to strengthen the road safety of Bangladesh through the effective implementation of these rules. Therefore, the Bangladesh government undoubtedly deserves praise for issuing such effective and timely road transport regulations.
There are several causes of road accidents, one of the main ones being overspeeding. Road accidents are happening regularly in the country. Uncontrolled speed directly affects the risk of accidents as well as the severity of injuries and the likelihood of death from accidents. Based on a survey conducted in more than 80 major cities of the world, the United Nations has concluded that limiting the maximum speed limit to 30 km in urban areas can greatly reduce the risk of road accidents. Research has also found evidence that such low vehicle speed limits in urban areas are effective in reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.
In addition to uncontrolled vehicle speed, driving while intoxicated directly affects the risk of road accidents as well as the severity of injuries and the likelihood of death from accidents. Studies have shown that if drunk driving is enforced 100%, the number of deaths in accidents can be reduced by 20%. (Source: Global Road Safety Partnership). In addition, the use of two- and three-wheeled motor vehicles is one of the leading causes of death and trauma due to head injuries. Many people are using motorcycles to reach their destination in the fastest time. As a result, its use in the country is increasing at an excessive rate in recent times.
In this case, along with speed, helmet-wearing is very important. Not wearing a helmet is not a direct cause of the accident but plays an effective role in reducing the level of injury to the person injured in the accident. Related studies have also shown that proper use of safety helmets reduces the risk of death in accidents by 40 percent and the risk of head injury by 70 percent. (Source: Global Road Safety Partnership). Similarly, seatbelt use does not directly cause accidents but plays an effective role in reducing injury and death rates in accidents.
According to World Health Organization data, seatbelts reduce the risk of death among drivers and front-seat passengers by 45-50 percent, and the risk of death and injury among rear-seat passengers by 25 percent. Also, according to the Global Road Safety Partnership, child safety seats are highly effective in reducing fatal injuries and deaths in road crashes by 70 percent for young children and 54-80 percent for older children. Specific provisions have been inserted in the seventh chapter of the said rules regarding the speed limit of vehicles. Notable among these is the provision related to issuing instructions or guidelines on motor vehicle speed limit determination, control, and management. As a result of this, in the future, the way to determine the appropriate speed limit based on the types of roads and motor vehicles and its proper implementation is paved. Hopefully, the authorities concerned will soon take appropriate steps for the effective implementation of the rules mentioned in these guidelines. We are hopeful that the proper implementation of these regulations will strengthen road safety and facilitate the path toward achieving the SDG targets by reducing road accidents.
Everyone must work now to achieve the 2030 goals. Goal 3:6 of the SDGs calls for halving the number of deaths and injuries from road accidents worldwide by 2020. Goal 11:2 of the SDGs calls for ensuring access to safe, affordable, and accessible transport for all by 2030 by improving road safety by expanding state-owned vehicles. To make the road safer, the government has taken various initiatives including installing dividers, simplifying turns, upgrading the road to 4 lanes, constructing restrooms for drivers on the highway, and installing speed controllers. It is on this basis that work is being done to bring discipline in the road transport sector, create efficient drivers, and form a task force to control accidents. To stop road accidents and ensure road safety, along with the government, transport owners, workers, passengers, pedestrians, and all concerned must work together from their respective positions.
We also hope that the government will take all the steps mentioned in the rules, such as setting speed limits based on the types of roads and motor vehicles, control and management, determining the quality of helmets, their proper use and management, proper use of seat belts, mandatory use of international standard child safety seats, etc. Take effective measures to confirm and implement expert opinions as soon as possible. The government’s initiatives to enact a separate Road Safety Act with emphasis on internationally recognized Safe Systems Approach such as Safe Roads, Safe Vehicle, Safe Road Users, Safe Speed Limits and Post Crash Management etc. will strengthen our road safety system and Bangabandhu’s Sonar Bangla and the current government’s commitment will play an important and timely role in building Smart Bangladesh. On the one hand, it will reduce road deaths and also pave the way to reduce economic losses (about 2 percent of GDP) due to road accidents. Through this Bangladesh will go a long way towards achieving targets 3.6 and 11.2 of SDGs.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and researcher

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