In Bangladesh, road accidents are the fourth leading cause of the death of children aged between 5 and 14
The World Bank and Brac have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work towards an improvement of road safety in Bangladesh.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader virtually inaugurated the program under this partnership on Saturday.
The event, ‘Road Safety Collaboration: Reducing road fatalities by 50% by 2030', also launched a road safety awareness campaign along the 48km Jessore-Jhenaidah road as part of the partnership, reads a press release issued by Brac on Saturday.
The campaign will complement the World Bank-supported WeCARE project, which was approved in June 2020 and aims to upgrade the existing two-lane highways — Bhomra-Satkhira-Navaron and Jessore-Jhenaidah — to safer four-lane highways.
A large number of people in Bangladesh die every year due to road accidents.
This year, despite restricted public movement owing to the coronavirus pandemic, 1,789 people lost their lives in 1,849 road accidents across the country from January to August, according to the Accident Research Institute.
In 2019, 5,227 people, including 1,190 transport workers, died in 4,702 road accidents, as noted in a report released by Nirapad Sarak Chai. The report notes that at least 4,356 people were killed on the spot.
More women drivers
Besides building awareness and educating people about road safety, Brac and the World Bank will partner together to promote safety for women in public transport systems and conduct training and skills building programs for drivers, including women drivers.
Quader at the virtual event said more women should get training in driving schools as part of professional driving since women drivers tend to respect traffic rules more than men drivers.
There will be fewer road accidents if more women drivers are recruited for driving as a profession, he added.
Brac’s driving school initiative, “Women behind the wheels”, has trained about 214 women as professional drivers so far.
The minister also said all the efforts of the government to build good road infrastructure for better driving conditions will be pointless if people do not feel safe on roads.
“The government is making great strides in the road transport sector by undertaking impressive projects such as the metro rail and the reconstruction of roads.
“However, if citizens do not abide by traffic rules and feel unsafe on the roads, all of these will be pointless,” he added.
Globally, about 1.35 million people die every year in road accidents. In Bangladesh, road crashes are the fourth leading cause of the death of children aged between five and 14, and 67% of victims are within the 15-49 age group.
Obaidul Quader, appreciating the joint initiative by the World Bank and Brac, said: "Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has taken actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of cutting down on the number of road traffic fatalities by half within the next decade.
“With more awareness and safer behaviour by road users, training of drivers, and better roads, Bangladesh is taking a comprehensive approach towards ensuring road safety.”
‘Ensuring road safety an economic and development priority’
Dandan Chen, World Bank acting country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, said: “Road safety has become an economic and development priority for any country.
“We are proud to be part of the government’s commitment to better road safety through a National Road Safety Program. Our partnership with Brac will reinforce the support to the program for improving road safety in both rural and urban areas in Bangladesh.”
Since 2011, under Brac’s community road safety awareness program, over 1.2 million people have received training on the safe use of roads. In addition, 5,451 schoolteachers and 498,000 school children have received special awareness training on road safety.
Asif Saleh, executive director of Brac, said: “I believe this joint initiative between Brac and the World Bank will be a big step forward to take the road safety system in the project area to a new level. With the support of the government of Bangladesh and the World Bank, we aspire to take Brac’s community-led road safety model across Bangladesh.”
Ahmed Najmul Hussain, director of Brac Road Safety Program, said: "I believe that undertaking more such community-driven awareness initiatives for the other highways of the country, such as the one to be implemented under this MoU along the Jessore-Jhenaidah highway, will substantially help reduce the number of road crashes."