Road act being crippled before implementation

Pressure of transport owners, drivers on to curb the law

Although the Road Transport Act-2018 remained unimplemented for more than one year after it was passed, now process is underway to make its provisions more lenient to the transport owners, drivers and workers, sources said. 

At the face of continued pressure from transport owners and workers, the Act could not be implemented till date after it was passed in the Jatiya Sangsad on 19 September last year, and now measures have been taken to make the law ‘friendly to transport owners and workers’, sources said.

People involved in different sectors related to road safety are shocked at the initiative as many of them think the Road Transport Act 2018 itself was lenient in nature. Taking initiative to amend the law at the pressure of transport owners and workers means accepting defeat to illegal pressure which will set a negative example in the country. Besides, it will delay the process of bringing discipline and ensuring safety in road transport sector, they opined. 

In February this year, the National Roads Safety Council formed a three-member committee headed by home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal in this regard. Other two members are law minister Anisul Huq and railways minister Nurul Islam Sujon. 

Leaders of road transport owners and workers associations held a meeting with the home minister on Wednesday last at the latter’s office. Executive president of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation and former shipping minister Shajahan Khan MP, president of Road Transport Association Mashiur Rahaman Ranga MP, among others, attended the meeting. In the meeting, transport owners and workers placed various demands before the home minister and urged him to amend the law to reduce to gravity of punishment cited in the existing act, sources said.

Following the meeting, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that they (transport owners and workers) made many demands and everything was discussed in the meeting. “We’ll prepare a report and hand it over to the main committee (National Road Safety Council). The main committee will take measures for the next step. The National Road Safety Council will take the final decision in this regard,” he said.

After the Jatiya Sangsad passed the Road Transport Act, 2018 on 19 September last year, a gazette notification was also published but it was mentioned in the gazette that the government would set the law in motion after fixing an implementation schedule with an official notification.  Experts think that fixing an implementation schedule for a new law is nothing natural, rather it seems there are ulterior motives behind this.

“Usually we see no law has this provision of notification from the law ministry for the declaration of an execution day. It seems this provision was kept to delay implementation of the law,” a police official said.

It is clear that the act needs no immediate rules for implementation as it is stated in the act that all its procedures will follow the code of criminal procedure -1898, he added. The Road Transport Act, 2018 has a provision of maximum five years imprisonment and Tk 5 lakh fine or both causing severe injury or death of any person due to reckless driving. The act also has a provision of minimum six months and maximum two years imprisonment and minimum Taka one lakh and maximum Taka 5 lakh fine for using fake driving licenses.  Another provision of the act is minimum six months and maximum two years jail and minimum Taka one lakh and maximum Taka 5 lakh fine for using and displaying fake registration number on the vehicle.