The World Bank joined hands with Brac to implement a programme to halve fatalities on roads by 2030.
They made the announcement at a virtual meeting yesterday morning, while signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at an event titled “Road Safety Collaboration: Reducing Road Fatalities 50 percent by 2030”.
The project will carry out campaigns on road safety, implement programmes to improve safety of women and children in public transport, and develop skills of drivers, said Dandan Chen, acting country director of the WB in Bangladesh.
“The losses due to road accidents are comparable to that of life threatening diseases. While the high casualty numbers are unacceptable, they are preventable,” said Chen.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, who attended the event, reflected on the challenges faced by the government on improving road safety.
“No matter how many roads we build, how much infrastructure we construct, we don’t feel satisfaction if there is no discipline in the roads, if people are not safe on the streets. All our achievements will go in vain,” he said.
“We are losing lives on the roads every day. I start every morning with news of road accidents, and when I see them, I feel guilty, and I burn in an invisible fire,” said the minister.
He said the government was yet to fully implement the Road Safety Act because of certain realities.
Giving a nod to Brac’s initiative to introduce more female drivers in the transport sector, Quader said, “We want more female drivers, because they are more inclined to follow rules and be more disciplined on the streets.”
He added that the female drivers graduating from Brac would be incorporated in the government vehicle pool.
Asif Saleh, executive director of Brac Bangladesh, said, “The road safety situation is not caused by one problem: it is not about the wage system, not just about the lack of awareness, and lack of drivers’ capacity — all of them combined are causing the road safety epidemic.”
In Bangladesh, road crashes are the fourth leading cause of death of children aged between 5 and 14, and 67 percent of the victims are within the age group of 15-49, speakers said at the programme.
Ahmed Najmul Hussain, director of the administration and road safety programme at Brac, said their work would include a focus on rural road safety committees.
At the event, a road safety campaign was launched targeting the 48 kilometre Jashore-Jhenaidah corridor, where the WB is currently implementing an infrastructure upgrade from two-lanes to a safer four-lane highway.
“I believe that undertaking more such community-driven awareness initiatives for the other highways of the country will substantially help reduce the number of road crashes,” Najmul said.