Road safety campaign funds stonewalled
WITH road accidents taking lives almost every day and reckless driving becoming a norm rather than the exception, it is only natural that safe road campaign becomes comprehensive with adequate funding from the government. However, as New Age reported on Friday, although the finance minister, in his budget speech, pledged Tk 20 crore for a widespread, multi-faceted safety campaign, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority has yet to receive the promised fund. Reportedly, the usual Tk 1 crore, which is given every year, has been handed over for a string of publicity campaigns, including holding of rallies, placement of billboard ads and printing of posters. While the importance of a variety of attention grabbing acts cannot be overemphasised, it must be said that time has come to go beyond these conventional approaches to make the campaign more than just an annual ritual.
Given the enormity of the road safety issue which involves faulty vehicles, untrained drivers, unsafe driving culture, a nexus between unscrupulous people and corrupt law enforcers followed by a lax punishment system, any move to create an impact on road safety must be supported by sufficient resources plus long-term programmes. It’s indeed a travesty to resort to rallies, plastering posters and holding discussions. Understandably, with such surface scratching attempts, the actual problem only spreads, making its containment harder. Reportedly, allocation for specific safety programmes would be done from the promised Tk 20 crore and while this amount is a huge boost, the real situation demands that to make roads better, more money is needed.
Everything said and done, people’s own sense of safety needs to grow. A proof of that may be found in the countless road divider construction work that almost never has any warning signal for road users. Since the finance minister gave his word, the government should not prevaricate and also engage acclaimed road safety strategists to formulate a realistic plan aimed at reducing the risk levels. Countless placards, processions, rallies and discussions haven’t instilled rudimentary safety imperatives in people at large; therefore, the government needs to opt for impact creating moves.
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