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Obaidul Quader: Women behind the wheels can be a catalyst for road safety

  • Published at 08:58 pm January 25th, 2020
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader
File photo of Awami League general secretary and minister for road transport and bridges Obaidul Quader Focus Bangla

Stressing the importance of hiring more professional drivers, he said female drivers do not drive recklessly and hence we need more female professional drivers

Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said that professional female drivers can be   catalysts for road safety in Bangladesh but they need to be hired after getting trained.

He was speaking at a Brac driving course certificate giving ceremony on Saturday at Brac center in the capital.

Stressing the importance of hiring more professional drivers, he said female drivers do not drive recklessly and hence we need more female professional drivers.  

“What is the point of giving them driving training completion certificates if organizations and individuals are not willing to hire them?” questioned the minister.

11 drivers received certificates upon completing their driving course at Brac.   

He also said pedestrians are as reckless as drivers.

“We all have become reckless. The drivers are reckless, the pedestrians are reckless, the politicians are reckless,” he added

“I often notice mothers with a baby in their arms, crossing the road recklessly even though the foot overbridge is just a few feet away,” said the minister.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader speaks at a function at the Brac Centre at Mahakhali in Dhaka on Saturday, January 25, 2020 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune Mahfuza Begum, a professional driver, shared the story of how she broke with social norms.

When Mahfuza became a professional driver, people in her family started making malicious comments about her.

"When my father would go to the mosque in Old Dhaka for his prayers,  people would tell him that no woman with a good character works as a driver. They used to tell my father that he shouldn’t take financial help from me as my income is not 'pure'."

Mafhuza never let these words shatter her dreams.

“I couldn’t be where I am today if I had ever listened to them,” she said.     

Asif Saleh, executive director of Brac said the government should lead the way by hiring more  BRTC female professional drivers.

"When people in this country see women drivers driving BRTC buses, they will see it as a normal thing and eventually their mindset about professional women drivers will change," he said.       

Kazi Rowshan Akter, secretary of the Women and Children Affairs Ministry, said road accidents are a major road safety concern and female professional drivers can curb road accidents as they are more careful and patient on the road.

"If women want to be independent, they have to cross the threshold of their house and be on the road. Road safety is a key issue in women’s empowerment,“ she said.         

Quader: BNP finding excuses to boycott polls

'BNP will have to prove where Awami League violates the electoral code of conduct'

Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has said BNP is finding excuses for staying away from the Dhaka city polls because of their apprehension to lose the elections, reports BSS.

"BNP has apprehension of losing the election. So, they are finding different excuses for staying away from the election," he told journalists after a function at the Brac Centre at Mahakhali in Dhaka on Saturday, reports BSS.

Asked about BNP's allegation that the government is using everything to win the polls, Quader said BNP beats around the bush.

"BNP will have to prove where Awami League violates the electoral code of conduct and how the government interferes into the polls," he said.

 Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader speaks at a function at the Brac Centre at Mahakhali in Dhaka on Saturday, January 25, 2020 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

About the remarks of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) regarding city elections, he said Awami League candidate won the by-polls to Chittagong 8 constituency while BNP mayoral contestant won the Dupchanchia municipality elections in Bogra through the electronic voting machine (EVM) system.

If any kind of rigging or forgery took place in the polls or through the EVM system, why the voter turnout was low, he questioned.

Quader said if the government had any ill motive, the turnout would have been higher. So, the allegation of rigging is illogical, he added.

The minister said only making complaints without giving any specific proofs cannot be accepted.

Earlier, the minister addressed a certificate giving ceremony for women drivers of vehicles at the Brac Centre.

Brac Executive Director Asif Saleh chaired the function while Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Secretary Kazi Rowshan Akhter, World Bank Country

Director Mercy Miyang Tembon, writer and researcher Syed Abul Maksud, and Brac Director Anna Minj attended it, among others.

BRAC Administration and Road Safety Program Director Ahmed Najmul Hussain presented a paper on "Women behind the wheel for road safety."