Entitled to formulate plans to curbing road accidents, the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) has called a meeting for its reformation after more than two years of hibernation.
The council held its last meeting on June 17, 2012 and came up with a set of recommendations which were never implemented. Now it has called a fresh meeting for December 21 with a hope to start functioning again.
“The committee had 44 members comprising of representatives of almost every ministry related with the road accident issue. But some members have already gone on retirement,” Road Transport and Highways Secretary MAN Siddique told the Dhaka Tribune recently.
The committee did not work due to “bureaucratic problems.” In the last meeting, the panel had taken more than 10 major decisions, but those just gathered dust.
Around 3,000 people are killed in road accidents across the country every year, according to police records. But the World Bank puts the figure at 12,000 while the World Health Organisation says it is 18,000, according to a 2011 report of Buet’s research institute.
Prof Tanweer Hasan, a road transports expert, said: “The government has hardly taken steps to minimise road accidents. Had the council been active, we would have seen at least see some visible progress.”
Apart from the council, there are two other committees that work on cutting down road accidents – Road Transport Advisory Council and Cabinet Committee on Road Safety. Government officials, law enforcers, experts and rights activists are members of the committees which have also been sitting idle for years.
Since its inception in 1995, the NRSC has formulated six road safety action plans between 1997 and 2011. In the latest plan, it has identified nine sectors that are to be improved for ensuring road safety. They include road engineering, traffic legislation, traffic law enforcement, driver training and tests, vehicle safety, education, publicity and medical services.
The NRSC also drew up a detailed plan and course of action, and specified responsibilities of different government bodies. But none of those have been implemented.
However, the 44-member body looked so “efficient” with Minister Obaidul Quader as its convener and BRTA Chairman Nazrul Islam the member secretary.
The forgotten committee also includes Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, State Minister for Cooperatives Moshiur Rahman Ranga, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Road Transport and Bridges Ministry Akabbor Hussain.
Member Secretary Nazrul said: “We are frustrated with this committee as it has not work out. We hope a reformed committee will perform desirably; at least, they will hold meetings regularly.”
The committee had also decided to form a sub-committee. It has been forgotten. They also decided to establish a training institute which was never discussed thereafter.
There was another decision of drafting the Road Transport Act in Bengali so that everyone could understand it. This decision too has been pending.
An NRSC member and film star Ilias Kanchan said: “We took many good decisions. But those were not implemented due to lack of sincerity of the implementing agencies and bureaucratic tangles. The reformed committee will not be a successful one if the bureaucratic tangles are not removed.”