‘The Highways Bill, 2021’ was passed in Parliament on Saturday to replace the ‘Highways Act, 1925’.
The law was designed aiming to end indiscipline and illegal occupation of highways across the country and to prevent accidents on highways.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader moved the Bill in the House and it was passed by voice vote.
The minister said that ‘Highways Bill, 2021’ was designed to adopt better transport regulations and to formulate a full-fledged law replacing a century-old and inadequate one.
The proposed ‘Highway Act, 2021’ keeps the provision of a maximum of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of Tk 500,000 for violation of the law. The old law has a provision of a simple imprisonment for six months and a maximum fine of Tk 10,000.
The fresh law is being enacted to regulate the country’s highways, construction, development and maintenance activities on the highway and safe movement of vehicles.
As per the proposed law, the government or any individual given responsibility by the government will develop the highways, repair or maintain those, highways related sewerage system and construct drains, culverts and bridges.
After the law comes into effect, the government and non-government utility service providers have to take prior approval and pay charge to install lines beside the highways; and the authorities concerned have to shift their establishments at their own cost if necessary for maintenance of highways.
As per the ‘Highways Bill, 2021’, the government will decide which vehicles will run on which roads or highways, which will be declared as expressway along with highways. The government will decide how these will be operated and from which roads toll will be collected.
The proposed law states that movement of small vehicles will be controlled on the highways across the country, while the highways can’t be used to dry crops or for any other purposes. The proposed law also imposes fine for piling up goods on the roads and driving on the wrong side. It also proposes bringing the Highway Police under the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry from the Home Ministry.