Indictment of incumbents’ predilection for rhetoric
That no major initiatives, as mentioned in a New Age report on Saturday, have so far been taken to repair the risky stretches of eight national highways, which the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority identified in 2010–11, tends to belie the communications minister’s claim that 90 per cent of the national highways are fit for traffic. According to the report, BRTA officials suggested their repairs on a priority basis at least before Eid, a major religious festival of the Muslims and also an occasion when a huge number of urban people usually travel to outlying areas and, unfortunately, the number of traffic accidents increases significantly. It may be worth noting that with more than 100 deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles, Bangladesh is ranked among the countries that have the highest road accident fatalities in the world. Moreover, according to the Accident Research Institute, the number of such accidents goes up by at least 20 per cent during Eid. During last Eid, around 50 people were killed and more than 200 were injured in 31 road accidents across the country. It is also pertinent to note that in the absence of adequate traffic management, road traffic accidents on the battered stretches also lead to huge traffic congestion, multiplying the sufferings of the people.
It appears that the incumbent government, like its predecessors, fails to understand the criticality of a safe and efficient road network not only to safe vehicular movement but also to raising economic activities as a whole to a vibrant level. This is, perhaps, why the words made by its key functionaries — especially the communications minister — about development works in this sector have largely remained rhetoric even three years and a half or so after they assumed office in 2009. One can recall the statement the former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain made on more occasions than one, particularly, when he came under fire from the people at large as well as his colleagues in the parliament and even the cabinet in 2011 for the rundown condition of roads, that the finance minister did not release the fund allocated in the budget in time. It is not clear whether there is any improvement in the matter, fund release that is, over the period. The incumbent communications minister, however, ever since he replaced the former in January, has told the media on several occasions that his top priority is to bring back the rundown road network around the country into by and large a pliable condition before Eid-ul-Fitr.
The communications minister needs to redouble his efforts to address the issues in question. Concurrently, he also needs to ensure the quality of the work, a matter that has allegedly been overlooked almost in a regular manner because of rampant corruptions in the sector in particular.
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