Coordinated efforts, awareness needed for road safety: Experts

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

Participants pose for a photograph at a roundtable on road safety at Karwan Bazar’s CA Bhaban on Monday. Photo: Sabina YesminAwareness among transport owners, workers and mass people and coordinated efforts between the government and stakeholders are needed in ensuring road safety, discussants at a roundtable observed.

Prothom Alo, in association with ride sharing company Uber, organised the roundtable titled ‘a coordinated effort needed for road safety’ at Karwan Bazaar’s CA Bhaban on Monday.

Superintendent of police of National Emergency Service 999, Mohammad Tabarak Ullah, said although emergency service has already attained people’s trust, road accident response is still its biggest challenge for perennial traffic jam in roads.

Lamenting the delay in response due to mismanagement on roads and highways, Tabarak Ullah said, “We’ve installed Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) devices in 92 patrol cars in the city for better emergency response system. We’ll be able to cut down response time significantly once we can install the system in all petrol cars of the country.”

He said the emergency service is being integrated with ride sharing services including Uber. Once the process is complete, passengers will be able to contact 999 easily, Tabarak Ullah added.

Zulquar Quazi Islam, Lead at Uber Bangladesh, said the awareness among people and the strong implementation of law can curb mismanagement in roads.

“Motorbike riders didn’t bother wearing helmets even six months ago. Now everyone wears helmet. It’s a good example of enforcement of law,” he said.

Amalgamation of safety features and technology has played a big role in the popularity  ride sharing app Uber, Zulquar Quazi Islam added.

Underscoring the need for valid and reliable database on casualty of road accident, director of Center for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB), Salim Mahmud Chowdhury, said, “There is often a big gap between data provided by the government and the private sector.”

Superintendent of police of National Emergency Service 999, Mohammad Tabarak Ullah ®, speaks at a roundtable while Uber Bangladesh’s chief Zulquar Quazi Islam looks on. Photo: Prothom Alo.Ahmed Najmul Hussain, director of Road Safety Programme of BRAC, said that incorporating road safety lessons in text books can be a long-term investment for safe roads.

Supreme Court lawyer Tanzib Ul Alam said faulty structure of roads and highways, weather condition and human error cause most of the road accidents in the country.

Saying that transport owners and workers often put pressure on the government, he said, ‘We want proper implementation of law and punishment for the drivers involved with accident. The government should not surrender under the pressure from transport owners association in making and implementing laws.” 

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University’s psychiatrist Sultana Algin, assistant professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Kazi Md Saifun Newaz, acting head of physiotherapy of the Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) Farzana Sharmin, women affairs secretary of Nirapod Sorok Chai movement Manjuli Kazi, head of public policy at UBER’s Bangladesh-India chapter Iravati Damle, among others, spoke at the roundtable moderated by Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayyum.

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