Around half of Dhaka city’s bus drivers and conductors are suffering from some form of visual impairment, while 72% of them have never been to an eye doctor. Every day, 21% of the city’s bus drivers and their helpers work shifts from 12 to 16 hours. 40% of drivers work eight to 12 hours a day. In these circumstances, reducing road accidents poses to be an impossible task. These were the outcomes of a discussion held on 12 May, 2019 at the BRTA Head Office in Banani.
The discussion was held to observe the fifth Global Road Safety Week. The event was organised by BRAC Road Safety Programme and Junior Chamber International (JCI) Dhaka West. Present was the director of BRAC’s road safety programme Ahmed Najmul Hussain, director of BRTA Sheikh Muhammad Mahbub-e-Rabbani, World Health Organisation’s representative Dr Tara Kessaram, JCI’s president Irfan Islam, and the chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association Rustam Ali Khan.
On 23-24 April, BRAC and JCI collaborated on an eye care drive, where 1,200 bus drivers and conductors were provided with free eye care and doctors’ consultation. The service was provided by 30 doctors and medical assistants from the National Eye Science Institute and Hospital. The findings from the eye care drive were presented at the discussion.
The previous event for an eye care drive done earlier was hosted by Kamran Ul Baset, the head of Road Safety and Driving School at BRAC. The session delineated that 1,200 individuals were given care, out of which 91% were bus drivers and conductors. About 4% of recipients were motorbike and private car drivers, while 1% were drivers of heavy carrier vehicles. 5% of the drivers were over the age of 60 years, while 4% of the drivers were between the ages of 18-24. In the two-day long drive, glasses and medication were given to 76% of the recipients. 12.6% of individuals received surgical treatment, while 4.10% received medication only.
“More initiatives on drivers’ eye care are necessary,” said Sheikh Muhammad Mahbub-e-Rabbani, Director, BRTA.
JCI’s president Irfan Islam Said, “We plan to keep this initiative going throughout the year.”