THE High Court directive that has asked the government to form task forces, composed of executive magistrates and Road Transport Authority and police representatives, headed by deputy commissioners, in all districts to monitor and keep unregistered, unfit vehicles off the roads is welcome. The court issued the directive on Sunday for public administration, home affairs and road transport and bridges secretaries to form the task forces in accordance with the Road Transport Act 2018, specifying that the task forces would take appropriate legal action against unfit and unregistered vehicles. According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, there were 458,359 vehicles without valid documents until June 2019, many of which are believed to be unfit. Out of them, 165,764 vehicles renewed their fitness certificates until December 30, 2019 on a High Court order of July 23. As of now, at least 292,595 unfit vehicles and more than three lakh unregistered vehicles are still on the road. Many of these vehicles have not renewed their fitness certificates for up to 10 years and many of them have, in fact, served out their economic lives.
What is worrying is that violation of rules and regulations in the transport sector. Earlier directives including the 2015 one that asked the government to keep unfit vehicles off the road have practically been left ignored. Unfit vehicles, many owned by many government agencies, run on the road with a sense of impunity under the nose of the authorities concerned, particularly the traffic wing of the police and the Road Transport Authority. In the meantime, fatal road accidents claiming lives are reported to have increased. At least 445 people were killed and 834 injured in 340 road accidents only this January, according to a report published by the Road Safety Foundation. At least 5,227 people were killed in 4,702 road accidents in 2019 while 2,635 people died in 2,562 accidents in 2018. Unfit vehicles, unskilled and unlicensed drivers, unhealthy race on the road, a lax enforcement of the Road Transport Act 2018, lax monitoring and lack of awareness among passengers and pedestrians are what have contributed to such an abnormal and unacceptable increase in road accidents.
The government and its agencies responsible must, under the circumstances, form the task forces as ordered by the court and must take expeditious steps to keep unfit and unregistered vehicles off the road. Vehicle owners must also comply with the directive and collect fitness and registration certificates at the earliest. Above all, concerted efforts of all the parties concerned are a must to bring the much-needed change in the chaotic road regime before it takes more lives.
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