Tuesday, 11 October 2011

No licence sans test, govt urged

Tarana Halim demands a public announcement that incompetent drivers will not be given licences. She urged that the communications minister, Syed Abul Hossain, to make such an announcement at parliament.

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

Human-chain protesting driving license without test

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

Licence only after test. Human chain asks govt for safe drivers, roads

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

Check carbon emission in urban areas. Environmental bodies urge govt

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

Call for popularising cycling

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

Expansion of railway, waterways suggested

Different organisations on Tuesday requested the governmentfor adequate investment and quick expansion of railway and waterways as safercommunications network.
They also suggested reducing dependence on road transportsignificantly and modernising the railway and waterways network as soon aspossible.

The recommendations were placed at a view-exchange meetingon 'Safe, Cheap and Sustainable Transport System : Importance and Measures tobe taken' held at the National Press Club. Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA),Bangladesh Institute of Planners, Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA), FamiliesUnited against Road Accident (FUARA) and WBD Trust jointly organised the viewexchange.

Mentioning a study report, Maruf Rahman, convener of WBDTrust and presenter of the keynote paper on the occasion, said once there was atotal of 24,000-kilometer waterways in Bangladesh, which had now shrunken to5,968-km only.
Of these, only 3,865-kilometer waterways are navigableduring dry season, he noted.
Other speakers at the function criticised the governmentmove of terminating 30,029 railway employees saying, railway service is moreefficient and cheap in carrying goods and less vulnerable to accident.

On the contrary, vast amount of agricultural land is beingdestroyed in road expansion project which is liable to create food shortage inthe country, they added.
Presided over by FUARA convener Iqram Ahmed, it wasaddressed by Professor AKM Abul Kalam, executive member of BAPA Muhidul IslamKhan and Professor of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University Nazrul Islam, amongothers.

Expansion of railway, waterways suggested

‘Safer, cheaper communications

Rights activists and environmentalists on Tuesday urged the government for preparing an integrated communication policy, focusing on the expansion and modernisation of the country’s rail and waterways. Pointing out the better safety and cost-effectiveness of rail and water transportation compared to that of road transportation, the activists in a views exchanging meeting at the National Press Club pressed forward a 19-point charter of demands that include increasing manpower, locomotives and coaches in the country’s ailing railway sector and effectively maintaining the novelty of water routes.

The speakers also stressed the need for strict administrative control over the road transport sector to ensure that unfit vehicles and untrained drivers are not allowed on the roads in order to address the increasing trend of road-accidents over the recent years.
Maruf Rahman of the Work for Better Bangladesh Trust in his keynote paper said, ‘The cost of transporting a passenger by road has recently increased to Tk. 1.35 per kilometre, whereas the costs of rail and water transportation remain the same since 2007 at Tk. 0.38 and Tk. 0.42 respectively.’

‘Safer, cheaper communications

Moreover, for the transportation of the same quantity of traffic units, environmental pollution by cars and lorries are measured to be 8.3 and 30 times higher than the rail mode, he added.
But quite inexplicably, said Maruf, the allocation from the Annual Development Programme for the rail and water transport sector had been reduced from 3.11 and 3.76 per cent to 2 and 0.54 per cent respectively, whereas the allocation for the road sector had been increased from 5.13 to 8.72 per cent between 1990 and 2007 fiscals.

Pointing out the decreasing trend of agricultural land due to road construction in the country, Abu Nasr Khan, convenor of Save the Environment Movement (POBA), said, ‘If the expansion of the roads and highways could be reduced by expanding the railways, there would be less stress on agricultural lands that is a major concern in our country to ensure food security.’

Abu Nasr also criticised subsequent governments for falling in the ‘vicious cycle of projects and loans’ as per the recommendation of World Bank and International Monetary Fund that had only facilitated, said Nasr, ‘The international automobile companies with profit, while depriving the poor and the middle-income groups of their citizen rights of safe and affordable communication.’
Professor AKM Abul Kalam, general secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), stressed that rail and water transports should be prioritised than the road transport in order to lay out a sustainable and integrated planning in the communication sector to meet the ever increasing transportation demand of the rising population as well as the rising Gross Domestic Product in the country.

Presided over by Ikram Ahmed, chairman of Families United Against Road Accident, the meeting was also addressed by Mohidul Haque Khan, executive director of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, BIP member Khondaker M. Ansar Hossain and Professor Nazrul Islam of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, among others.

Comprehensive policy demanded for sustainable transport system

Speakers on Tuesday demanded formulation of a comprehensive policy for sustainable transport system and its proper implementation.

They also urged modernisation of the rail and inland waterways infrastructure to reduce dependency on road transport.

They made the demand at an exchange of views organised by Bangladesh Environment Movement, Bangladesh Institute of Planners, Save the Environment Movement, Families United against Road Accident and WBB Trust at the National Press Club.

Participants in the programme called on the authorities to construct double lines and increase the number of railway locomotives and wagon.

The government should strengthen water transport system in a riverine country like Bangladesh by taking short and long-term measures, they said, also urging for amendment to the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1983 to improve road transport system.

AKM Abul Kalam, general secretary of the Bangladesh Institute of Planners, said Bangladesh had a transport network which included roads, railways and inland waterways but only the road transport had traditionally been the centre of the government’s attention.

Moreover, railway networks need multi-modal integration with road and inland water transport systems, he said.

Corruption in road construction, illegal fitness certificate for water ways and dredging in rivers should be looked into, he said.

Ekram Hossain, convener of Families United against Road Accident, Maruf Rahman, national advocacy officer of WBB Trust, Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan executive member Muzibul Haque and executive director Coalition for Urban Poor Rebecca Sultana were present at the programme.

Comprehensive policy demanded for sustainable transport system

World Car Free Day observed

Green activists at a cycle rally on Thursday called for keeping private cars off the road one day a week to cut down the capital city’s traffic congestion and pollution.

They demanded increasing the tax on car imports and parking to encourage better public transport system.

Organised by the Save the Environment Movement the cycle rally started at National Museum and ended at Central Shaheed Minar to mark World Car Free Day said an SEM press release.

SEM chairman Abu Naser Khan said that an ever growing number of private cars were contributing to traffic congestion and road accidents, increased expenditure for road construction, environment pollution and greater power consumption day by day.

He said that a sustainable transport system required coordinated steps to encourage walking and the use of cycles.

Nagorik Odhikar Sangrakhan president Hafizur Rahman, Save the Environment Movement secretary Sabina Nayeem, Dhaka Cycling Club general secretary Azharul Islam were present.

Jagannath University student Meshkatul Alam won a cycle at the raffle draw.

World Car Free Day observed

‘Curb car use to drive away jam

Green campaigners on Thursday demanded a stop on use of private cars at least once a week to reduce traffic congestion and environmental pollution in the city. An increase in the use of private car is not only contributing to similar rise in traffic congestion but also resulting in misuse of energy, they said at a rally in front of National Museum. Save the Environment Movement (SEM) organised the rally to mark World Car-free Day.
The green activists later brought out a cycle rally that ended at Central Shaheed Minar.
Maruf Rahman, national advocacy officer of WBB Trust, said, “Cars carry only 5 per cent of people commuting in the city every day, while most people use public buses, rickshaws and cycles. A large part of the city’s population also moves on foot but no initiative is seen to facilitate their movement.

“But the government is always seen to encourage import and use of private cars and taxi cabs.”
Excessive use of cars play an instrumental role in the increase of traffic congestion and their movement should be curbed to ease jams, Maruf said. He also stressed the need to create a congenial atmosphere for cycling within the city. “Cycle is an energy-free and environment-friendly vehicle,” Rahman said.

Chairman of SEM Abu Naser Khan said the use of private cars should be stopped at least once a week to maintain a clean atmosphere and save energy. “This rule is in place in cities such as Jakarta (Indonesia) and Bogotá (Colombia). The energy crisis is a great cause of concern, as we spend a huge money to import energy.”

Instead of increasing price of fuel, Khan asked the government to fix a different rate of fuel for those using their own vehicles. He also suggested for improving the mass transport system instead of constructing car-friendly infrastructure

‘Curb car use to drive away jam

Keep cars at home once a week to cut pollution

Speakers at a cycle procession yesterday urged authorities concerned to take necessary steps so that car owners keep their cars at home once a week to reduce environment pollution, traffic congestion and dependency on fossil fuels.

Only five percent of the city's people ride cars which occupy around 70 percent of the roads and highways, creating heavy traffic congestion, they said.

The rally was organised by Save the Environment Movement in front of the city's National Museum.

Citizens' rights activists there urged to enforce a car-free day in keeping with major cities all over the world and to coincide with the international event on September 22.

They also stressed the need to create a bicycle-friendly atmosphere on the streets.

Their other demands include increasing taxes on car import, discouraging availability of loans to purchase cars, imposing on-street car parking charges and improving public transportation services.

The movement Chairman Abu Naser Khan and Dhaka Cycling Club General Secretary Azharul Islam Masum also spoke at the rally.

Keep cars at home once a week to cut pollution

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Demand of safe walking environment, In a Walkathon by BAPA and WBB Trust

A walkathon was organized by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust today at 10.00 am from National Museum to National Press Club demanding better footpath by extension, undertaking zebra-crossing for safe walking and planting trees on road sides to create sound environment for walking, initiating special signal for pedestrians and for pro people transports

by restricting private cars.

The brief meeting was chaired by Professor ATM Ruhul Amin and convened by Kamrul Ahsan Khan, coordinator of Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), Australia. Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique, vice-chancellor of University of Dhaka, Dr. Abdul Matin, General Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA), Professor Nazrul Islam, President of Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), A R Khan, former professor of University of Dhaka, Dancer Tamanna Rahman, Architect Salma Safi, Dr. Lelin Chowdhury on behalf of Khelaghar, Iqbalul Haq of UDICHI on behalf of cultural workers, Ekram Ahmed, former divisional commissioner, Syed Mahbubul Alam, Program Manager of WBB Trust, Architect Iqbal Habib, joint secretary of BAPA, Zakir Hossain, joint secretary of BAPA and Sharif Zamil joint secretary of BAPA addressed in the meeting.

Vice-chancellor of University of Dhaka Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique said, “Private cars use should be reduced for environmental development”. “Safe environment for walking and cycling should be created”. “Dhaka University family actively contributes to social movement for safe environment”, he added. He also said that recommendation of BAPA, BEN and WBB Trust of cycling for students of Dhaka University seems assertive. We will develop an environment of cycling in Dhaka University Campus.

BEN President Professor Nazrul Islam said that fuel based Private cars are being controlled worldwide to defend global warming and climate change. It is also important for Bangladesh to control private cars.

BAPA General Secretary Dr. Abdul Matin has said that Mass people will be encouraged if sound environment for walking is created. “Walking keeps people healthy”, he added.

Kamrul Ahsan Khan said that there is enough opportunity for walking and cycling in al the countries in the world but Bangladesh does not have such opportunity. It is important to create a better environment for walking and cycling in our country also.

Syed Mahbubul Alam said that more people are dying of non-communicable diseases in the world and if people walk regularly, they will not be attacked by diseases like Diabetics, heart disease and other non-communicable diseases.

Professor Ruhul Amin said that walking keeps people sound and active physically and mentally. Besides, walking reduces motorized transport dependence which will reduce government expense in fuel and transport sectors.

“Every healthy person should walk for 1 hour a day” and people will be encouraged if sound environment for walking is created which ultimately reduces air and sound pollution.

Professor MM Akash, Shahazahan Mridha Benu, Mohidul Haq Khan, Rakib Uddin, general Secretary of Dhaka University Alumni Association, Dhaka District Rover fo Bangladesh Scouts, SRDA, Green Voice, Nirapad Development Foundation, Green Belt Trust, Manab Unnayan Sangstha, Manobik, PSS, Uddipan, a student organization of Sher-E-Bangla Agriculture University, and students of architecture Department of Bangladesh University.

Make zebra crossings on busy roads

Make zebra crossings on busy roads
Environmentalists urge govt

Environmental activists yesterday demanded marking zebra crossings at all busy thoroughfares in the capital to ensure safe movement of pedestrians.

They placed the demand after drawing a zebra crossing in front of fine arts faculty on Dhaka University campus, jointly organised by Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Save Environment Movement) and Nirapod Development Foundation.

Environmental activists there urged the government to not misuse funds by building foot-over-bridges in the city as most pedestrians do not use them.

They also demanded making separate walk-lane along busy streets for pedestrians. They urged all to practice walking instead of using vehicles.

Environmental activists Abu Naser Khan, Ibnul Sayed Rana, Syed Mahbubul Alam and Moshiur Rahman Rubel, among others, spoke on the occasion.