More reasons to overhaul BRTA
THE prevalence of vehicle modification in the country, something relating to building the structure of a vehicle on its chassis paying little attention to how much weight the chassis can safely take, although it contributes a key factor to road accidents, is indeed a matter of grave concern. As New Age reported on Tuesday, transport owners, especially those owning bus and truck, are showing increasing predilection for such unlawful means just to earn some extra money by carrying extra passengers or goods. According to a road safety expert, also a professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, vehicle modification often results in ‘overloading, tyre burst, brake failure and faulty axles’. What is more worrisome, in case of trucks, it gives overconfidence to drivers and thereby indulges the latter to ‘drive recklessly’, which, according to different studies, significantly contributes to road traffic accidents and consequent fatalities.
According to statistics available with the police, around 3,500 people across the country are killed every year in road traffic accidents, although a World Health Organisation study conducted in 2011 put the number of road accident fatalities every year at 18,000. In other words, road traffic accidents claim the lives of between 10 and 50 people every year. Also, road accidents cause thousands more to lose their limbs and the country’s gross domestic product growth to suffer by some percentage every year.
Unfortunately, the government appears to have glossed over the problem so far as the director (engineering) of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, the government regulatory body regarding road transports, officials of which are supposed to check everything concerning safety issues in particular before issuing fitness certificates to vehicles, light and heavy, has sought to wash their hands of the matter by saying that the modification occurs ‘only after’ issuance of the fitness certificate. Besides, repeating the same old story, he also sought to blame the lack of means to monitor any vehicle when it is assembled in workshop. It may also be pertinent to mention that, in February 2012, the BRTA took an initiative to outsource the task to the private motor workshops to be registered with it which, if in place, could provide some solution to the problem. Regrettably, however, the initiative is yet to see the light of day for some flimsy grounds. None can rule out the allegations that the much-talked-about nexus between the corrupt BRTA officials and the ravenous transport owners, of which even the communications minister has talked of in public on a number of occasions thus far, may have played a role in holding back the initiative.
Overall, the government needs to overhaul the BRTA in the first place if it is sincere about putting an end to vehicle modification.
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