An opposition lawmaker yesterday questioned the government decision to appoint Shajahan Khan as the chief of a 15-member committee formed to recommend ways on curbing road accidents and bringing discipline to the road transport sector.
While raising a supplementary question, Jatiya Party MP Fakhrul Imam asked: "Will it be fruitful to control illegal drugs by ex-Awami League MP Abdur Rahman Bodi and ensure road safety by Shajahan Khan?"
Terming Shajahan an ill-advised choice to head the committee, Iman said his fellow MP was at the centre of controversies on different occasions for his comments and actions.
“Huge controversy was created across the country after Shajahan Khan's comment that a driver can be given a licence if he can differentiate between a cow and a goat.”
His smile (over deaths of two students) also created a “dangerous situation” in the country, he said. “How much of the government commitment can be kept by appointing a person like him?” Imam questioned.
Bodi, a former MP from Cox's Bazar-4, was named as a yaba godfather in reports of the Department of Narcotics Control alongside several intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
A DNC report mentioned him as a patron of yaba trade in Ukhia-Teknaf, the gateway of smuggling the crazy drug from Myanmar.
Shajahan, also a former shipping minister, slammed Imam when it was his turn to take the floor under section 274 of the rules of procedure of parliament minutes.
“Fakhrul Imam made a remark about me in which he connected illegal drug peddling with road accidents. It is very regrettable and condemnable,” Shajahan said.
He demanded that the opposition MP withdraw his remarks.
Shajahan, also the executive president Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, then requested the remarks be expunged.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, who was presiding over the sitting, said she would look into the matter.
Road Transports and Bridge Minister Obaidul Quader also spoke on the issue in parliament.
He said they convened an emergency meeting of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) on Sunday as the road safety situation has deteriorated recently.
He said the home minister, the transport sector's experts and leaders, columnist Syed Abdul Maksud, road safety activist Ilias Kanchan, and police officials were present at the meeting.
Quader said Shajahan's name was proposed as the head of the committee but no one at the meeting opposed it.
“There're 14 more members at the committee under him [Shahjahan]. We'll not give importance to any person here…we'll focus on the report to be made by the committee on bringing back discipline to the transport sector, and we'll decide on the next course of action in this regard,” Quader said.
He also said the report would be prepared by the committee members, not by any individual. “His [Shajahan's] name was proposed as he is an experienced person.”
The government formed the committee at an NRSC meeting on Sunday. Shahajan's name in the body surprised many.
Experts, road safety campaigners and family members of accident victims termed the government's decision “hilarious” and a “mockery”.