Road Safety: Quader draws flak in House
Opposition MPs yesterday blasted Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader for his failure to bring discipline on roads and for reducing the punishment for errant drivers by amending the Road Safety Bill.
They alleged Quader took the decision under the pressure of transport owners and workers.
"You have to make so many compromises when sitting in my chair," Quader said, while acknowledging that bringing discipline on roads and the transport sector is imperative.
In the face of the strong criticism of the MPs over the fatal road accidents, the minister said the drivers were not always responsible; the pedestrians were sometimes at fault, too.
"Pedestrians recklessly cross the roads."
The VIPs' tendency to not follow the traffic rules are also responsible for the disorder on roads, he said.
"I would like to assure you all that the law has not been relaxed or the punishment has been reduced in any way. The rigidity of the law, the spirit of the law remains the same as in the original. That will remain."
The minister said the Road, Transport Bill will be amended only to make it time befitting in line with the neighbouring countries.
About the students' demand for a 50 percent discount on fares for them, Quader said the government has already prepared a gazette to provide the facilities in BRTC-operated buses across the country from December 1.
BNP MP Harunur Rashid said the students had taken to the streets demanding road safety and discounted fares. But the ruling party cadres swooped on them with sticks and roads.
"I want to know what action has been taken against those who carried out the attack," he said.
In response, Quader said the Bangladesh Chhatra League also supports the students' demands. "Someone else in the name of BCL might have carried out the attack," he added.
Our Tangail correspondent reports BCL men drove away protesting students who gathered at the Shahid Minar at Nirala Intersection in Tangail town.
Fatema Rahman Bithi, an organiser of the student protest, alleged that BCL men thwarted them from their demonstration, took away their phones, tore their posters and attacked the female students.
Asked about the matter, Mostafizur Rahman Sohel, convenor of Tangail district unit of BCL, told The Daily Star that they know nothing of the incident.
Meanwhile, the second meeting on the special fares for students between the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority authorities and transport owners and labour leaders yesterday ended inconclusively.
The first meeting on the issue on Thursday was also inconclusive.
As much as 80 percent of the transport owners in Dhaka are poor, said Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, after the meeting.
"Some of them maintain their families by running just a bus. How will they handle the loss from taking half fare from students?"
During the meeting, Enayet Ullah proposed for setting up of a task force comprising of stakeholders to determine the loss in revenue for bus operators if half bus fare for students was introduced.
After the meeting, BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder urged all students to leave the street protest. The students' demands had reached the government.
"But we will need time to bring all under the structure of laws," he said.
But students of different educational institutions yesterday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to meet the demands they had raised in 2018 including half bus fares and ensuring their security in public transport.
After holding a three-hour-long sit-in in front of Rapa Plaza in Dhanmondi, the students warned that they would besiege the BRTA office on Tuesday if their demands were not met.
They also said that their protest would also continue for today and tomorrow. They will also continue to check the unfit and unlicensed vehicles on the road.