Bangladesh must sort out driving school, instructor issues

Published: 00:00, Sep 28,2019 | Updated: 00:20, Sep 28,2019

 
 

THE shortage of skilled drivers contributes to the risks of fatal accidents as the situation leaves a large number of vehicles in the hands of drivers who are unskilled and reckless. Official records show, as New Age reported on Friday, that about a half of the motor vehicles are in the hands of untrained drivers. As of June 2019, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority have registered 4.6 million motor vehicles but have issued 2.2 million driving licences, which suggests that half of the vehicles so far registered are run by drivers without professional licences. Of the total number of registered vehicles, 260,000 are heavy vehicles while the authorities have issued only 160,000 licences for driving heavy vehicles. Allegations also have it that many of the licences may have been issued in exchange for money to drivers who may not have had the required training. A proposition like this is dangerous in view of at least 7,221 people having died, as the statistics of the Bangladesh Passengers’ Welfare Organisation shows, in traffic accidents across the country only in 2018.

It is in this context the government efforts should be immediately forthcoming in setting up drivers’ training schools to be run with qualified instructors. In addition to 17 government driving schools, there are now only 135 private driving schools, located across the country, registered with the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority and there are 183 instructors, many of whom are said not to have instructor’s licences. The instructors, however, trained 17,818 people in 2016–2018 for professional and non-professional driving licences. While many of the driving schools are not monitored, the rate at which the schools train drivers is far too insignificant in meeting the demand for drivers that are required to drive the vehicles that the authorities have registered. The Road Transport Authority took an initiative to train 1,000 instructors, as laid out in the 111 recommendations that the Road Safety Council’s committee put forth in April, and bring all private driving schools under its oversight, no visible progress has so far been heard of. It appears that all the authorities and agencies concerned have either failed to work or have been negligent about the issues in their efforts to ensure road safety.

In view of the impact of the shortage of driving schools and instructors on road safety, the government and its agencies concerned must attend to the issues immediately. The Road Transport Authority must immediately train more instructors, set up more driving schools and start monitoring all driving schools to create the required number of skilled drivers.

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