- World Bank, BRAC launched a Road Safety Awareness Campaign
- They partnered up to conduct training and skills-building for drivers
- In Bangladesh, road crashes are the 4th leading cause of death among children aged 5-14
- 67% of road crash victims in Bangladesh are aged 15-49
- Globally, about 1.35m people die every year in road accidents
The World Bank has teamed up with Brac to improve road safety in Bangladesh by promoting the safety of women in public transportation systems, and providing training for both male and female drivers.
They also launched a Road Safety Awareness Campaign along the 48km Jashore-Jhenaidah corridor as part of the partnership on Saturday, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding at a virtual event titled "Road Safety Collaboration: Reducing Road Fatalities 50% by 2030."
The campaign will complement the World Bank-supported WeCARE project, which was approved in June 2020, and aims to upgrade the existing two-lane highways – Bhomra-Satkhira-Navaron, and Jashore-Jhenaidah – to a safer four-lane highway, read a press release.
Inaugurating the event, Road Transport and Bridges Minister, Obaidul Quader, said Bangladesh has implemented steps to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of cutting the number of road traffic fatalities by half within the next decade.
However, experts and stakeholders told The Business Standard that the goal will be a challenge for Bangladesh to achieve.
Commenting on the issue, the Bangladesh Passengers Welfare Association's Secretary General, Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, said, "Under the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, Bangladesh had set a target to cut road traffic fatalities by half, but we were unable to achieve this goal.
"The same target has been included in the SDG yet again. The target is to achieve the goal by 2030, but I think we will fail this time as well."
Pointing out the challenges of reaching this goal, Mozammel said, "The continued operation of unfit vehicles, a defective process of mainstreaming new drivers into the system, and the lack of implementation of laws are still prevalent in the country."
Professor Shamsul Hoque, former Director of the Accident Research Institute (ARI) in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), recently opined that the government has been unsuccessful in ensuring road safety in the country.
He remarked, "The Road Transport Act 2018 is yet to be fully implemented here due to a lack of proper planning. Reckless driving and charging extra fares are still continuing. Public transport vehicles do not follow the law. Every road is now a death trap."
He added that for a healthy transportation system, we need to develop the 3E system – Engineering and Planning, Education and Enforcement.
'Bangladesh is taking a comprehensive approach'
Praising the joint initiative by the World Bank and Brac, Road Transport and Bridges Minister, Obaidul Quader, said at the event, "With increased awareness and safer behaviours by road users, improved training for drivers, and better roads, Bangladesh is taking a comprehensive approach to ensure road safety."
Meanwhile, Dandan Chen, World Bank's acting country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, said, "Road safety has become an economic and development priority for any country."
The collaboration will support exchange of knowledge and raise awareness among stakeholders to reduce fatalities and injuries from road accidents. It will also help the country adopt interventions based on the Safe-System Approach – including safe roads and safe behaviors – as recommended globally.
"With the support of the Government of Bangladesh and the World Bank, we aspire to take Brac's community-led road safety model across Bangladesh," said Brac's Executive Director Asif Saleh.
The Brac Driving School's initiative, "Women Behind the Wheels", has already trained about 214 women as professional drivers.