THE initiative to extend the jurisdiction of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority, which has fallen flat in its designated task to curb irregularities on roads in the capital city and its adjacent districts, across the country sounds unrealistic, to say the very least. The authority, which emerged as Dhaka Transport Coordination Board back in 1998, is tasked to prepare strategic transport plan, provide regular supervision and to ensure coordination among different agencies concerned for planning for all transportation infrastructure development works within the capital and its neighbouring districts — Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Mankganj, Gazipur and Narsingdi. The authority is also responsible for developing and constructing mass transit system, designing, planning and constructing bus rapid transit, assessing traffic impact of buildings and housing projects, along with planning, coordinating and approving transport projects of other agencies, planning route networking for public transports and managing central fare collection in the aforesaid area. But, as the DTCA has not been able to deliver its designated duties and has been unable to coordinate with other agencies to develop mass transport system through integrated transport planning, it is highly unlikely that the authority will be able to develop mass transport system through coordination with other agencies all over the country.
More responsibilities — as would surely fall on DTCA’s shoulders if its jurisdiction is extended to cover the whole country — would, in fact, handicap the authority and, as experts doubt, might worsen the already vulnerable road safety scene in the country. Another decision, under the initiative, to amend the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority Act, 2012 to include penalty clauses for ensuring safety on roads for pedestrians is a welcome decision. The authority, however, needs to assess the current needs and take into considerations the many recommendations made by different government and non-government committees on road safety to give people relief and to arrest deaths and injuries on roads while amending the act. Rules, regulations, procedures and related operational guidelines would be ineffective, if not implemented properly. It is common knowledge that the country’s public transport system is fatally risky and that road safety remains elusive across the country; and it is sadly true that government and its different agencies have so far been forming committees one after another either to seek recommendations on road safety or to seek recommendations on how to implement the recommendations, but to no avail, as effective changes are yet to become a reality.
The government, under the circumstances, should review whether to extend the Dhaka Transport Cooperation Authority’s jurisdiction across the country as it has failed to discharge its task to contain irregularities in the transport system in Dhaka. While a concerted effort and action with accountability of all agencies concerned is a must for sustainable development of the road sector, it would be an unwise step to give the responsibilities of the country to a body which has failed to prove its mettle in Dhaka.
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