Incredulously, the very person whose plainly insensitive comments had enraged students and sparked off mass demonstration in demand of road safety last year, has now been made the head of a 15-member committee on road safety. It is of course laudable that the government seems to be trying to bring order to our roads—much needed given the horrifying number of deaths every year due to road accidents. And, in this entire time, except some stop-gap measures, no lasting long-term solutions addressing the roots of the problem have been implemented.
The formation of yet another committee to give recommendations is definitely not the answer, especially given that the recommendations from an earlier committee formed in 2011 were never implemented. And to top it off, making individuals with clear conflicts of interest and a history of controversial comments and actions over the issue of road safety, cannot give us much hope. Besides the designated chairman of the committee, five others involved with transport organisations have also been made members of this committee. In the past, experts have consistently pointed out how the fact that lawmakers are also representatives of transport workers is itself a conflict of interest in this issue. So, appointing the same people who have not only failed, but in cases opposed attempts to bring transport workers to discipline, makes little sense, if at all.
The government's attempts to ensure discipline and safety have been challenged over and over again. The Road Transport Act-2018, though passed in September last year with some stringent punishment to hold road transport drivers to account, is yet to take effect because of protests by the federation which the head of this committee leads.
If the government wants to address the death traps that are our roads, it must listen to experts and address the structural flaws. The law, with stringent punishments, must be implemented. Committees, especially with members who have others stakes, cannot be the answer. And the government should not allow the political choices of individuals to dictate an issue when the lives of citizens are at stake.