The authorities are planning to introduce short distance Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation, or BRTC, bus services on highways to prevent movement of three-wheelers and illegal vehicles.
Road safety experts said the initiative would definitely reduce road accidents and sufferings of local people.
They also urged the authorities to monitor the service strictly to avoid resistance from private transport operators as they did in the past on different routes.
On April 17, the highway police sent a letter to the Road Transport and Highways Division and requested to run 132 new BRTC buses on 23 routes on different highways including Dhaka-Chattogram, Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar, Dhaka-Khulna, Dhaka-Sylhet, Dhaka-Mymensingh, Dhaka-Aricha, Dhaka-Mawa and Bogura-Natore.
Highway police deputy inspector general Md Atiqul Islam told New Age on Monday that recently he met Road Transport and Highway Division secretary Md Nazrul Islam over the issue and he had agreed with the highway police proposal.
Buses on short distances on the highways would facilitate locals which would reduce road accidents and traffic congestions on highways, he added.
Md Nazrul Islam told New Age on the same day that they would decide on how many buses would be handed over to highway police after 600 new buses arrived from India by June this year.
Road transport and bridges ministry imposed a ban on movement of three-wheelers and non-motorised vehicles on 22 national highways on August 1, 2015, in the wake of a spate of traffic accidents on highways due to increased presence of these vehicles.
The High Court on August 3, 2015 asked the government and the police to keep unfit motor vehicles off roads across the country.
According to the highway police, movement of slow-moving and banned three-wheeler CNG-run auto rickshaws, easy bikes and four-wheeler vehicles locally known as Leguna, illegal Nasimon, Karimon and Bhotbhoti and non-motorised vehicles was one of the major reasons behind accidents and traffic congestions on highways.
They removed 93,666 such slow-moving and illegal vehicles from the highway in the last three years.
These vehicles get severely damaged in any accident due to their small size and unsafe features and cause traffic gridlocks immediately after the accidents.
Since local bus services on highways were insufficient, these non-motorised and slow-moving vehicles were in demand among locals, police sources said.
Highway police and locals have often clashed over pulling out of these vehicles from highways because there were no other alternative to them, they also said.
Following the proposed service, locals would be highly benefited and movement of these vehicles on highways would be stopped for good, they added.
Highway police requested for around 10 BRTC buses 218 km area on Dhaka-Sylhet highway where these buses will run on Bhairab-Brahmanbaria, Brahmanbaria-Narsingdi, Kandail-Morjal, Madhabpur-Borochar, Ashuganj-Madhabpur, Tajpur-Paniunda, Nazirbazar-Tajpur Degree College routes.
For Cumilla Bishwa road-Feni Mohipal, Feni Mohipal-Chattogram City Gate, Karnaphuli Bridge-Keranihat bus stand, Keranihat bus stand-Chokoria bus stand, Bogura-Natore, Ishwardi-Natore, Bogura-Rangpur, Bogura-Hatikumrul, Natore-Rajshahi, Rangpur-Birganj- Thakurgaon, Faridpur-Daulatdia Ghat, Faridpur-Bhanga, Faridpur-Magura, Kushtia-Jhenaidah, Jhenaidah-Jashore, Jashore-Benapole, Jashore-Khulna, and Khulna-Mongla highways highway police requested for six buses on each route.
Five buses were requested for 25 km area on Dhaka-Aricha highway’s Amin Bazar-Zirani, Kalampur-Tora Bridge and Tora Bridge-Paturia Ghat stretches.
Four buses were requested for 87 km area on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway’s Rajendrapur-Bhabanipur, Bhabanipur-Joyna Bazar and Nasir Glass-Bogar Bazar stretches.
Highway police also requested for three corporation buses on Dhaka-Mawa (38 km Notun Rasta-Mawa intersection stretch) and two buses on Dhaka-Chattogram (17 km Signboard-Meghna Bridge stretch) highways.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Accident Research Institute assistant professor Kazi Md Shifun Newaz said that if implemented the initiative would definitely reduce accidents and congestions on highways.
The slow-moving vehicles must be kept off the roads and on top of that bus fares would have to be reasonably low when the new service is introduced, he added.
Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh secretary general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said the authorities should strictly monitor the situation when the new service is launched. Past experience tells us that when similar initiative was taken some private transport operators had obstructed BRTC services on different routes.
‘We would have to be watchful, lest this service be interrupted,’ he said, expressing fear and requesting the government to implement the initiative immediately.
The committee, headed by former shipping minister Shajahan Khan, to bring back order on roads and control accidents also proposed for minibus BRTC bus and mini truck services on highways for the same reason.
This committee submitted 111 recommendations to the prime minister Sheikh Hasina on April 28 this year.
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