In a national road safety programme in 2020, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talked about dope tests for drivers. After almost one-and-a-half-years of the prime minister’s announcement, the BRTA in the beginning of this year said all professional motor vehicle drivers were to produce dope test certificate along with their applications for driving licences and for renewing their licences from 30 January.

Since then, the number of people for dope tests started increasing at the hospitals. There are about 2 million professional motor vehicle drivers who need to get driving licences or renew their licences. Sufferers said though they were directed to conduct the dope test at government hospitals, many government hospitals outside of Dhaka do not even have the facilities. The hospitals that have the facilities, lack the required workforce. According to a calculation of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), BRTA sent 8,782 applications for dope tests to different hospitals between 30 January and 14 February. Among them, only 1,899 certificates were issued as of 22 February.

The Narcotics Control Department (treatment and rehabilitation) director said they have been working to finalise a regulations on dope test. Project proposal on dope test is also about to complete. Under the project, dope tests will be done in 22 districts. The whole matter is a farce. They have been working to finalise regulations only after already making dope test compulsory and talking about conducting the test in 22 districts.

According to a report, 60 per cent of the professional motor vehicle drivers are drug addicts. Many members of police department also allegedly take drugs regularly. In this context, we consider making dope test compulsory a laudable step. But there has to be commitment and capacity to implement such good decisions. Steps have to be taken immediately to arrange dope test systems in government hospitals that do not have the system. Permission can be given to private hospitals as well, if deemed necessary. But in that case, the government must remain alert so that none can issue fake certificates in the name of dope test.

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