Crash plan to create skilled drivers

The government has taken initiatives to launch a ‘Crash Programme’ to train 6 lakh heavy vehicle drivers in the country. Currently there are light vehicle drivers who are driving heavy vehicles who will be given special training for acquiring skill to drive heavy vehicles and they will be given licenses. The whole cost of this programme will be met by the government.

This initiative has been taken in the face of recurring accidents on roads that are taking human lives at an alarming rate. It is expected that once these people will receive the training they will have better road sense, driving sense and manage their vehicles better in case of problems.

These drivers will be trained by Bangladesh Armed Forces Division, BRTA, BRTC and non-government organizations in the next 5 years. Not only that, nearly 1200 trainers will be given training alongside the drivers. Sources concerned with this have said that this initiative was taken to create six lakh drivers considering the capability of government and non-government organizations. Although, earlier, a decision was taken to create 10 lakh drivers in a high-level meeting, but later on the number was reduced considering the capabilities of the institutions.

Many families are now devastated after losing the only bread earner due to accidents. According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are about 40 lakh vehicles in the country of which about 2.5 lakhs are heavy vehicles like bus, truck, minibus, covered van and tanker. Whereas, the number of drivers is less than 30 lakh, out of which only 1 lakh 60 thousand for heavy vehicles.

On the other hand, there are about 10 lakh vehicles in total which are being driven by drivers who don’t even have license. According to private sources, many cars are being driven by men without license or with fake license. These are the main reasons for road accidents.
A statistical study of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s (BUET) Accident Research Institute (ARI) found that in 2018, there were 3513 road accidents across the country resulting in the death of 4 thousand 76 people and injury of 8715. Forty-five percent of these accidents happened due to buses and trucks of which 23 percent was by buses and 22 percent was by trucks.

 Both of these vehicles are considered heavy according to regulations. Before this in 2017, forty-seven percent of accidents occurred due to buses and trucks. According to Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary Md Nazrul Islam, there is a lack of skilled and heavy vehicle drivers in the country. No driver can drive for more than 5 hours at a stretch in a long-distance vehicle. Moreover, labour laws dictate that  work hours are scheduled to be 8 hours daily and for drivers it is less, which many drivers exceed. 

That is why this initiative has been taken to create skilled drivers. He added that if this initiative is implemented, it will be possible to reduce road accidents and increase road safety. It is known that the government is supervising this on a high-level. A meeting was held recently in the Road Transport and Highways Division where the secretary himself led it. In addition, a meeting was held in Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) as it is the coordinator of this programme. Earlier, such a meeting was conducted in presence of the Chief Coordinator of SDG Md Abul Kalam Azad at the Prime Minister's Office in April.

These meetings resulted in the decision to train 10 lakh drivers. But after considering the capability of the organisations, it has been reduced to 6 lakh. According to the latest plan, two lakh drivers will be trained under BRTC, two lakh by BMET, one lakh by Armed Forces Division and one lakh under the SEIP project of the Ministry of Finance. In addition to BRTC's own training centre, non-government organizations like BRAC, Nitol Tata, Safe Road and also BRTA will be sharing quota for training drivers according to their capacity. In the meantime, uniform course module or syllabus has already been finalized.

Sources concerned say that drivers who are driving heavy vehicles will be given two weeks of training and those who are driving light vehicles will be trained for 4 weeks. At the same time, along with vehicle training they will be trained on issues such as road safety, staying away from drugs, raising awareness and special emphasis will be given on the development of human qualities. Afterwards, they will be able to get their license through passing the regular examinations under BRTA.

Besides, training of nearly 1200 trainers will be provided through 6 organizations across the country. It is also being said that the potential cost for training of the individual teacher is estimated at Tk 49475 and those who are driving heavy vehicles with light licenses will cost Tk 25040 for a two week training period. Moreover, Tk 42980 will be needed to train each light vehicle driver for 4 weeks. The government will bear the total cost of this programme. Besides this, financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will also be taken.