The government on Wednesday ordered the law enforcement agencies not to allow non-motorised vehicles to ply national highways any more to check fatal accidents.
The directive came at a meeting at the secretariat on highway traffic management. The home affairs minister, Sahara Khatun, presided over the meeting.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, at a cabinet meeting on Monday asked the ministries concerned for immediate steps to check road accidents that claimed many lives in recent days.
In the latest incident on February 5, 10 activists of the ruling Awami League, who were in the motorcade of a ruling party lawmaker, were killed in a road accident on the Dhaka-Khulna Highway in Faridpur.
The home ministry’s meeting with senior officials of the police also decided to request the communications
ministry to set up ‘dividers’ on the highways across the country to discipline traffic.
The meeting also asked the local administration, including the police, to relocate the roadside markets that obstruct smooth traffic flow, an official concerned told New Age.
‘The police have been asked to strictly implement traffic rules on highways… Non-motorised vehicles such as rickshaws/vans and also Nasimon-Karimon [three-wheeled human haulers] will not be allowed to ply highways any more to check road accidents,’ Sahara told reporters after the meeting.
She, however, said that non-motorised vehicles, which are not supposed to ply the highways, cause road accidents.
‘Lawmakers and local administration of respective constituencies will sit with the businessmen to make a decision on roadside markets where people gather on highways obstructing traffic,’ Sahara said in reply to a question.
She said a motorcycle rider must wear a helmet and a motor-cycle would not be allowed to carry more than two persons.
The meeting asked the Highway Police and the superintendents of police to take punitive measures against overtaking, overloading or speeding by any vehicles.
‘We will set up check points to oversee traffic on highways. Vehicles will no longer be allowed to overload or overtake,’ the state minister for home affairs, Shamsul Haque, who also attended Wednesday’s meeting, said.
The top half of the headlights of the buses and trucks must be covered with black colour, he added.
On February 5, 10 supporters of the newly elected Awami League lawmaker for the Brahmanbaria 3 constituency, RAM Ubaidul Muktadi Chowdhury, were killed in a road accident on the Dhaka–Khulna Highway at Bhanga in Faridpur.
Earlier on January 15, 10 policemen of the Belabo police station, two of them inspectors, were killed in a road accident at Pukurpar of Shibpur on the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway.
According to statistics available with the police headquarters, 2,958 people were killed in 3,381 road accidents across the country in 2009, 3,765 people were killed in 2008 and 3,749 in 2007.
The government earlier decided to ban the plying of unauthorised human haulers such as battery-run ‘easy bikes’ and shallow engine-driven ‘nasimon’ or ‘karimon’ on highways and in district towns to curb traffic accidents.
The home affairs ministry accordingly in November 2010 directed all divisional commissioners to take steps to make highways and roads in district towns off-limits to unregistered vehicles which often cause fatal accidents, according to officials.
The National Road Safety Council at its 19th meeting with the communications minister, Syed Abul Hossain, in the chair on September 29 decided not to allow nasimons, karimons and easy bikes on highways.
The communications ministry decided several times to remove all illegal structures such as markets on the highways for safe traffic movement. But the decisions of neither the home ministry nor the communications ministry have so far been implemented, according to officials.