THE most happening road transport sector continues to face countless problems as the road transport administration fails to adequately attend to major initiatives planned to put road transports in order. Some of the major initiatives that have been partially, or improperly, implemented and have run into problems in implementation are the rules that are needed to implement the Road Transport Act 2018, a policy to control battery-run or modified three-wheelers, the use of the national helpline number in ridesharing services, the establishment of axle load stations on major highways, the upgrade of Dhaka–Sylhet and Chattogram–Cox’s Bazar highways to four lanes, no toll collection from ambulances and fire engines, the widening of the Coxs’ Bazar–Teknaf marine drive, the popularisation of the electronic toll collection system and the inclusion of the local government, rural development and cooperatives and the housing and public works minister in the board of the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority. The rules for the Roads Transport Act are yet to be framed. Battery-run and modified three-wheelers still ply the road in breach of a High Court directive of 2015 and a ban that the ministry ordered that year because of some disagreement among stakeholders that has so far persisted.
The Dhaka–Sylhet and Chattogram–Cox’s Bazar highway upgrade plan is yet to be completed but the road transport ministry is reported to be implementing it under a public-private partnership scheme; a Japanese firm is said to be conducting the feasibility study now. The Dhaka–Sylhet Highway upgrade project is yet to receive the approval of the National Economic Council. The Road Transport and Highways Division is reported to have proposed the acquisition of land in 18 districts for the establishment of axle load centres and bids have already been invited for the job of the 17 centres through a tender process. The national helpline number could not be integrated in ridesharing services although the process started in July 2019 and non-cooperation between the police and companies has still been an issue. A circular has already been issued to keep ambulances out of the toll collection purview, which appears not to have been adequately enforced. A project proposal is reported to be prepared for the widening of the marine drive. The electronic toll collection system has been put in place in at least two places. An amendment to the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority Act 2012 is being worked on. The Road Transport and Highways Division secretary seeks to say that everything is on course for the implementation of the initiatives. But they all seem to be progressing at a slow pace, which has been the crux of the problem.
The implementation of major initiatives may not put the road transport sector in the best order, but it will resolve many of the issues that have so far plagued the road transport sector. The government must, therefore, put in more efforts to expeditiously implement the initiatives not just to put the road transport sector in a good shape but also address much of the problems that people face on the road.
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