Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Tarana Halim, also a famous artiste since her childhood, was speaking at a demonstration in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Saturday.
Jointly organised by Saif Foundation and Families United Against Road Accidents (FUARA), Tarana said, the platform of accident victims had sent a letter to the communications minister requesting him not to give driving licences to incompetent people.
“[Communications minister] has given his word that he won’t succumb to such pressure.” Tarana said Abul Hossain’s assurance followed a letter from FUARA.
“I urge the honourable minister to announce that the 20,000 proposed licences will be cancelled and to train the 10,000 drivers who have already been issued licences,” she said.
She said 199,000 ‘unskilled’ drivers had been given licences in the past 18 years and added, “There is no scope to call road mishaps only accidents.”
An MP from reserved women’s seats, Tarana Halim said FUARA is a platform to move for social issues. The Saif Foundation was formed after her nephew Saif Ahmed was killed in a road accident in 2009. “Workers leaders and drivers rebuked us and many distinguished people joined them. I have no political ambition or interest. I want to tell them who see political motives behind these movements that I have never resorted to politics over deaths. Nor will I do it in future.”
She said good efforts are always questioned. “A tendency of ‘shutting up’ and ‘putting up’ is on in the country.”
Communist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Mujahidul Islam Selim said drivers’ ignorance is one of the main reasons behind traffic accidents. “But the government is saying that anyone should be given licence if he understands the difference between a cow and a goat. What kind of a country is we living in?”
He said the entire communications system of the country needed to be overhauled by repairing the roads, increasing public vehicles and appointing skilled drivers and improving the rail and water transports.
Convenor of the organisation Public Service Commission member and Saif’s father Ekram Ahmed said they were demonstrating demanding amendment to the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983 and its implementation, announcement of charges against ‘unskilled’ drivers responsible for accidents as non-bailable offence and increasing jail terms for such drivers to 10 years.
The communications minister recently came under stinging criticism within and outside the government over rundown roads after filmmaker Tareque Masud, ATN News CEO Ashfaque (Mishuk) Munier and three others died in a road accident in Manikganj on Aug 13.
The criticisms got harsher when transport owners stopped bus operation on 13 routes demanding repair of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.
According to a former US diplomat in Dhaka, as whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said in one of its cables, the minister was ‘less than an honest man’ in his business dealings.
Meanwhile, shipping minister Shahjahan Khan, also a transport workers leader, has been facing criticisms for his recommendation to provide licences to those driving without one for the last 10 to 15 years.
Shahjahan Khan in a press statement issued on Aug 29 said the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation had sent a list to the authorities of 24,000 such drivers. He had said the country had a shortage of 0.135 million drivers and said there was no need for test for drivers, the statement said.
The High Court Aug 25 ordered the government to stop issuing licences without proper screening and legal compliance, until Oct 17, by which time the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) is to submit records of the last five years. The same day, the parliamentary standing committee on communications ministry blamed the previous BNP-led government for issuing licences to unskilled drivers.
In his first reaction after the news reports and criticism over his insistence, minister Shahjahan on Aug 18 said he had proposed issuing licences through due process and refused the allegation of pressuring the authorities.
Following this, Tarana on Aug 20 from a human chain against road accidents said she would fast to her death if ‘unskilled’ drivers get licences upon recommendation from the shipping minister
No licence sans test, govt urged
A human chain was formed in frontof the National Press Club in the city on Saturday to press the demand forstopping issuance of driving licenses without tests. Two organization - FamiliesUnited Against Road Accident (FUARA) and Saif Foundation - organized the humanchain at 10:30 am.
Advocate Tarana Halim, MP,Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) General Secretary Mujahidul Islam Selim,FUARA Convenor Imran Ahmed, Saif Foundation Chairman Samiya Halim and BangladeshHuman Rights Council Chairman Abdur Rahim Khan addressed the human chainprogramme, among others, said a press release.
Prof Dr Mohammad Kasimuddin,social worker Sagor Lohani, Bangladesh Press and Human Rights FoundationPresident Nayeem Ahmed, Udichi Shilpi Goshthi General Secretary Habibul Alam,WBC Trust National Advocacy Officer Maruf Rahman and family members of roadaccident victims took part in the programme along with students, teachers,intellectuals, political and social workers and cultural personalities.
The speakers urged the governmentto take necessary steps to reduce incidence of road accidents and ensure safemovement of the people.
Tarana Halim urged all to jointheir non-political social movement for the prevention of road accidents.
She urged the authorities not toissue driving licenses without taking tests and demanded amendment to the MotorVehicle Ordinance 1943.
Mujahidul Islam Selim suggesteddevelopment of rail and river routes for safe transport system in the country. He urged the authorities to findout the real reasons for road accidents and take proper steps accordingly.
He also suggested improving thepublic transport system and controlling private cars.
Human-chain protesting driving license without test
Lawmaker and noted artiste Tarana Halim yesterday demanded the government make non-bailable the offence of causing road accidents by drivers and increase the maximum punishment to 10 years imprisonment.
She was addressing a human chain programme seeking necessary steps to reduce road accidents and ensure safe movement, said a release.
Saif Foundation and Families United Against Road Accidents (Fuara) jointly formed the human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club.
Around 1.9 lakh drivers got professional licences without taking any test during the last 18 years and recommendation has been made to issue another 28,000, she said quoting newspaper reports.
Tarana expressed concern that these irregularities will raise the toll in road crashes and urged the authorities not to issue driving licences without conducting proper tests.
Earlier on August 20, the legislator announced that she would go on a hunger strike unto death if the government issues licences without arranging any test.
Denying that the movement for road safety has political affiliation as hinted by some quarters, she insisted it is a social movement for public welfare.
The Awami League lawmaker also demanded amendment to Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1983 and arrangement of proper training for those who got licences earlier with out taking any test.
Railway and river routes should be developed urgently to ensure better movement of people, Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary of Communist Party of Bangladesh, told the programme.
Fuara convener Iqram Ahmed underscored modernising the existing laws and its proper enforcement to ensure road safety.
Saif Foundation chairman Samia Halim, some family members of accident victims, students, teachers and social and cultural workers joined the programme.
Licence only after test
Human chain asks govt for safe drivers, roads
Leaders of some environmental organisations yesterday urged the government to take necessary steps in controlling carbon emission in cities as urban living practices are, in many ways, responsible for climate change.
They were speaking at a press conference in the city's Jatiya Press Club organised by WBB Trust and Save the Environment Movement marking World Habitat Day.
They also demanded necessary measures restricting movement of privately-owned cars in cities and emphasised on encouraging people to walk and ride bicycles.
Reading out a written statement, WBB Trust Senior Project Officer Naznin Kabir discussed on the negative impacts of climate change and ways to create awareness among people in this regard.
She also presented the possible consequences of leading a luxurious urban life, using motor vehicles and construction of buildings in an unplanned way.
Nagorik Adhikar Sangrokhhon Forum President Hafizur Rahman Moyna, the movement Secretary Monower Hossen, Jahangirnagar University urban and regional planning department Associate Prof Mohammad Shafiq-ur-Rahman and WBB Trust Director Syed Mahbubul Alam also spoke.
Check carbon emission in urban areas Environmental bodies urge govt
State Minister for Forest and Environment Dr Hasan Mahmud on Sunday underscored the need for creating convenient atmosphere for easy cycling, considering the forest, health, fuel and communication expenses in the country. He said this while addressing a cycling rally, jointly organised by Dhaka Cycling Club, Nirapad Development Foundation and Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, in front of the National Museum in the city.
Emphasising the need for cycling, the State minister said cycling for 30 minutes or 2100 km cycling in a year reduces the risk of gaining weight by 50 percent, blood pressure by 30 percent, cardiac disease by 50 percent and diabetes by 50 percent.
Green activists urged the government to declare national bicycle day to popularise cycling in the country.
President of Bangladesh Cycling Federation Mizanur Rahman Manu, chairman of Nirapad Development Foundation Ibnul Syed Rana, vice-president of Titas Gas Ltd Akter Hossain, national advocacy officer of WBB Trust Maruf Rahman, general secretary of Dhaka Cycling Club Azharul Islam and national cycling coach Sahidur Rahman, among others, addressed the occasion.
Mizanur Rahman Manu said, “The demand for the declaration of national cycling day on September 18 is a long-standing demand to popularise cycling in the country.”
He underlined the need for creating a different network for easy cycling everywhere in the city. The imposed tax on bicycle should be reduced for popularising cycling, he said.
Mizanur Rahman Manu further said, “The motorised vehicles are mainly responsible for environmental pollution. However, cycling and walking can reduce the dependency on private cars.”
Referring to cycling in different developed countries, he said, “Popularity of cycling is increasing in the developed countries and it is being