The Accident Research Institute (ARI) at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) has developed a project for the government that is expected to help reduce road accidents by 50% in Bangladesh, thereby help bring down causalities and reduce Tk20,000 crore in economic losses every year.
A special lab called Operation Control Center (OCC) will be set up under the project, titled “Speed Enforcement, Incident Detection and Emergency System for Safer Bangladesh National Highways,” which will provide necessary equipment support for the institute to conduct modern research to reduce accidents.
The project aims to stop speeding and carry out prompt rescue operations at the scene of a crash, according to project documents. It is currently awaiting the nod from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
The project has an estimated cost of Tk1,500 crore. The Roads and Highways Department, Highway Police, Fire Service and Civil Defense and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) will jointly implement the project.
Around 3,000 accidents happen every year in Bangladesh, killing around 2,700 people and injuring around 2,400. The total economic loss of such accidents is estimated to be Tk40,000 crore per year, which is 2-3% of the country's GDP.
The OCC lab will help detect vehicles that engage in speeding on highways.
As per the plan, a speed monitoring camera will be installed every two kilometers on the 2,000km national highways, connected with optical fibre to the OCC.
The highways will be divided into 40km segments. Each segment will have a station where a fully equipped Highway Police team and a Fire Service and Civil Defence team will be based.
Speeding vehicles will be tracked and their locations sent to a central server or control room installed at the ARI and to a law enforcement team to track them down and take action.
The central control room (OCC) will remain active at all times and deliver real-time information to the respective authorities to perform their jobs.
“The OCC will be established in the ARI at Buet. If there is any incident like speeding, dangerous overtaking, law violation or sign or signal violation, the related information will be sent to the lab which will constantly monitor the information,” Kazi Md Saifun Newaz, an assistant professor with the ARI, told the Dhaka Tribune.
Whenever a vehicle crosses the speeding limit or commits any traffic violation, an SMS will be sent from the control room to the respective police team, the authorities and the owner so that necessary legitimate action is taken, he added.
According to the project documents, the ARI will be responsible for providing engineering and technical assistance, doing research and give directions about future development and up-gradation of the project.
It will also monitor, guide and approve all activities of the project such as any type of procurement or implementation.
How will the authorities act?
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) manages real time data with its high capacity server.
“We will provide vehicle registration and driving licence data to the OCC Lab when the project comes into effect. Every divisional office and the headquarters has a video console to monitor the highways. If anyone breaks the rules we can take initiatives immediately,” BRTA Director Moshiar Rahman said.
As a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, Bangladesh has a commitment to cut causalities from road accidents by half by the year 2020.
“The government is striving to curb road accidents and has already taken several steps towards prevention. The ARI research would help prevent road accidents and can help fulfill the SDG target,” Roads and Highways Department (RHD) Executive Engineer Mohammad Shaheen Sarker said.
The RHD will follow the full project steering and make all required procurements.
“We are ensuring that all vehicles are equipped with all sorts of tools and materials. Our department will do regular maintenance to address minor or temporary damages of the facilities,” he added.
In Bangladesh the speed limit for highways is 80km per hour. Around 200 to 250 vehicles are fined for speeding on highways, according to Highway Police.
“Highway Police is working to conduct ground enforcement with regular vigilance. We are using digital equipment for this. For fast transport facility, our officials ride motorcycles and patrol vehicles to reach the spots,” Highway Police DIG Atiqul Islam said.
“We take legal action for all incidents and crashes. We have video consoles for monitoring every zone and there are six dumping spots for confiscated vehicles,” he added.
The Fire Service is currently engaged in rescue efforts to provide 24-hour service at 89 highway points in the country.
Debashis Mondal, assistant director of FSCD, said: “Accident recovery and emergency medicare is provided by the Fire Service in such cases. In every 40km, we will have rescue vehicles and mobile trucks to provide medical support.”
The ARI will provide approval of all tasks including financial and management sides to ensure quality.
“OCC will have high capacity main data servers for reliable management of this sensitive part of the project,” said Kazi Md Saifun Newaz, assistant professor ARI.