Absence of any comprehensive database on road transport sector is a major obstacle to forming future policies, conducting research and finding out remedies to ensure road safety in Bangladesh, safety researchers and experts finds.
It is impossible, they say, to take target-oriented steps for lack of statistics on accidents, causalities, unregistered vehicles and drivers without driving licences.
Lack of any comprehensive database creates controversy, which in the long run diverts the policymakers’ attention from solving the existing problems in the road sector.
The major controversy, on road safety related statistics, involves the number of road accidents and causalities officially collected by Bangladesh Police based on first information report, they say.
According to World Health Organisation, around 18,000 to 20,000 people are killed in road accidents annually in Bangladesh while the number is put between 10,000 and 12,000 by the World Bank and between 2,000 and 2,500 by the Bangladesh Police.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority has no statistics or even assumptions as to the number of unregistered, modified and permanently damaged vehicles and drivers without driving licences.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology professor and National Road Safety Council member Md Shamsul Hoque said the first and foremost thing the government should do was to create an accurate and reliable database for the road transport sector.
‘The government may feel satisfied with the under-reported statistics of road accidents prepared by the police and but everyone knows
that the number is much higher,’ he observed.
By suppressing statistics, he warned, it would be impossible to measure the quantity of damage caused by accidents and take target-oriented solutions on road safety-related issues.
BUET Accident Research Institute director Professor Moazzem Hossain said the government statistics on road accidents was not authentic and comprehensive for lack of any complete database.
Earlier, they had sent a proposal to the government for creating a comprehensive database on road accidents which saw no progress so far, he claimed.
He commented that it was very difficult to make the government active in low cost projects.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, founder-chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre, said the importance of road safety data was yet to become evident to the authorities.
Contradictory statistics given by law enforcing agencies, newspapers and non-government organisations were creating controversy which pushed behind the urgency of a complete database, he explained.
He, also a former adviser to a caretaker government, said there were lack of statistics on road quality, accidents and budget allocation for road safety.
BRTA chairman Moshiar Rahman admitted that their data were not updated.
BRTA was collecting different newspapers reports on road accidents to get the number of road accidents.
‘In December this year we will make a report using the data. We are also collecting statistics from the district administrations,’ he said.
About the number of unfit vehicles on roads, he said they had given the owners till May 31 to give registration fees for their vehicles without any fine.
After that, the authorities would cancel fitness of all vehicles which was not registered in the last 10 years and would then prepare a database, he said.
At present, against 29.84 lakh registered vehicles there are about 20 lakh people having driving licence.
Many modified trucks and covered vans now operate in rural areas along with huge number of unauthorised three-wheelers, battery-run easy bikes and other vehicles but there is no database on them.
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