BRAC Driving School, a pioneering institution dedicated to promoting road safety, has launched its newest branch in Chattogram. The inauguration ceremony took place on Monday, 25 September 2023, at the Bangabandhu Auditorium of Chattogram Press Club.
On the same day, a separate programme took place where 40 individuals were honoured with certificates for the successful completion of driver training at BRAC Driving School. This initiative is a result of a collaborative effort between BRAC and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development, and Co-operatives (MoLGRD).
Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate of Chattogram, Abul Bashar Mohammed Fakhruzzaman graced the inauguration of the Driving School's new branch as the chief guest. The session was chaired by Ahmed Najmul Hussain, Director of BRAC's Road Safety Programme. Towhidul Hossain, Deputy Director (Eng.), BRTA Chattogram Metro Circle-Chattogram and N M Nasiruddin, Deputy Police Commissioner (Traffic-South), Chattogram Metropolitan Police were present at the event as special guests. Mainul Hossain, BRAC's Road Safety Programme Manager, shed light on various aspects of the organisation's road safety programme. The programme was moderated by Project Manager M Khalid Mahmud.
Similar to other branches of BRAC Driving School, the Chattogram branch offers both fundamental and specialised driver training. Skilled instructors employ cutting-edge tools such as driving simulators, visual impairment systems, seatbelt convincers, and the P-Drive (Digital Driving Testing System) for the training programme. Additionally, there is a dedicated facility for women to receive instruction from female trainers.
In his address as the chief guest, Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate of Chattogram, Abul Bashar Mohammed Fakhruzzaman suggested that BRAC could assist in piloting a scheme that includes training before obtaining licenses, providing defensive (Surokkha) training for drivers, and offering driving training as part of the Asrayan project. He recommended that BRAC should establish affiliations with internationally renowned training institutes or universities. Furthermore, he extended an offer of funding support through Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) to facilitate the implementation of BRAC's Surokkha driving training for all heavy vehicle drivers of Chattogram.
He emphasised the introduction of restrooms for long-distance drivers and assured that this would be raised during next DC's meeting chaired by the honourable Prime Minister.
Ahmed Najmul Hussain, Director of BRAC's Road Safety Programme, mentioned the safe system approach as the international standard to ensure Road safety. This approach includes safe roads, safe vehicles, safe road users, safe speeds, and post-road crash management. The hour following a road crash is referred to as the 'Golden Hour', and it is crucial for taking necessary actions that can reduce fatalities by up to 90%.
Meanwhile, at a separate event, 40 individuals were awarded certificates for participating in driver training under the Comprehensive Village Development Programme (Phase 3), in collaboration with the MoLGRD, at Hotel Saikat in Chattogram.
Abdul Mannan Mia, Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic, Chattogram, emphasised in his speech as the chief guest that Bangladesh is facing a shortage of one billion professional drivers. Currently, driving is one of the most highly sought-after professions worldwide.
Addressing the graduates from BRAC Driving School Chattogram, he said, 'Consider yourselves fortunate to have received this training. Treat your profession with respect and strive to be a positive influence, both within and beyond Bangladesh.
The event was also chaired by Ahmed Nazmul Hussain, Director of BRAC's Road Safety Programme. Dr. Monzur-Ul-Amin Chowdhury, Adjunct Faculty, School of Liberal Arts and Social Science (SLASS) in Chattogram Independent University and President of Ghashful, along with Salah Uddin Ibne Syed, Deputy Project Director, Comprehensive Village Development Programme (CVDP) 3rd phase, were present as special guests in this event.
The CVDP is an initiative of the Ministry of LGRD designed to provide various skills development trainings for employment and livelihoods in rural areas. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry and BRAC in 2022 paved the way for the professional driver training under the 3rd phase of this project.
To date, 250 individuals have undergone basic driving training, with an additional 610 scheduled for training by the end of the year at BRAC Driving Schools in Jessore and Rajbari. The driving training at BRAC Driving School Chattogram commenced in August 2023 under this project.
Since 2001, BRAC's Road Safety Programme has been dedicated to enhancing road safety for all road users. A significant component of these efforts involves imparting safe road use training. To date, over 1.2 million regular road users, 5,6100 students, and 5,400 teachers have received training in safe road use.
As part of this initiative, BRAC Driving School conducts the BRAC Road Safety Programme. To date, 11,535 individuals have received commercial driving training, 8,114 in basic driving, 2,698 women in car driving, 2,013 in motorcycle driving, and 384 as driving instructors.