Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader on Thursday said that his main priority during his new term was to bring back discipline in the road transport sector.
By way of this statement, Quader, minister for third consecutive term, admitted to his failure to establish order in the road transport sector between December 2011 and December 2018.
‘Dogged by indiscipline, all efforts in infrastructural development through projects such as building roads or bridges, will go in vein,’ he said at a briefing to the journalists at the secretariat.
‘Discipline will have to be brought back right at the outset as at the end of the tenure, there will be issues of general elections and political pressures to deal with,’ he said, ‘We have to keep these issues under watch since the start — it is like killing the cat on the first night, as the saying goes.’
Obaidul Quader on Monday took oath as road transport bridges, or RTB minister for the third consecutive term. Earlier on December 5, 2011 he was assigned as communication minister for the first time and on January 12, 2014 for the second time.
During his tenure, safety on roads became one of the major concerns in Bangladesh as regular fatal accidents became the norm.
Killing of Government Titumir College student Rajib Hossain on April 17, 2018 and two Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College students on July 29, 2018 are some of the gruesome examples of how road accidents have become a major cause of death in the country.
The Cantonment College students’ death in Dhaka shook the entire country, leading to a nine-day countrywide student protests demanding road safety.
Last year on October 21, Obaidul Quader admitted to his failure as a minister at a roundtable organised by Daffodil International University in the capital. He said he was unable to rein in the disorder on roads.
At the briefing on Thursday, the minister said that works of some big projects including construction of Padma Bridge, Dhaka Elevated Expressway and upgrading Gazipur-Elenga road to four-lane would be implemented.
Two new projects — upgrading of Dhaka-Sylhet and Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar highways to four lanes – would be also be implemented during this term, he added.
‘If there is no order, then an eight-lane road will not produce effective results, so what is the point?’ he asked, and hastened add, ‘I have to bring back order on roads at first and then to the transports themselves.’
On how discipline would be brought back, the minister said that he had his own strategies.
He pointed at banning movement of small and unfit vehicles on highways and motorcycles carrying more than one pillion riders and driving recklessly, besides ensuring use of helmet by motorcyclists outside the capital for bringing back order.
The minister said that it would be possible if we work sincerely, seriously through coordinated efforts.
‘I believe it is difficult but not impossible,’ he said.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Politics