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Govt softens on executing transport act

  • Published at 02:20 am November 22nd, 2019
Transport Strike November Gabtoli
File photo: Rows of stand still buses at Gabtoli bus terminal in Dhaka on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

'The Road Transport Act will be examined in order to look for any kind of inconsistency before amendment'

Although the government had announced that the Road Transport Act will be strictly executed to bring discipline on the roads, they have now decided to soften their stance.

The decision has been taken to avoid further chaos in the transport sector, as commuters and businesses have already suffered a lot due to the strikes over the last four days.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has already announced an extension until June 30 next year, by which the drivers and owners of public transports will be able to update their driving licences and fitness certificates. 

Similarly, operation of mobile courts by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) will become softer in Dhaka. 

While addressing a program on Thursday, the home minister warned: “If all documents are not updated by June 30, stern action will be taken.” 

On Wednesday, the minister had said that the government would look into the nine-point demands, including amendments to the recently enforced transport act, the cargo transport leaders and workers had made.

“We will submit the nine demands as a recommendation to Govt softens on executing the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry for revising the new act,” the minister told reporters.

‘Loopholes will be closed’

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Thursday said the Road Transport Act will be examined for amendment, and the loopholes will be taken care of after discussion.

“The Road Transport Act will be examined in order to look for any kind of inconsistency before amendment,” he said.

Quader said formulation of rules under the new law will also be finalized shortly. 

He made the statement in a meeting arranged by the cultural sub-committee of Awami League National Council preparation committee, at the party president’s political office in Dhanmondi.

Based on his remarks, it is now some apparent that the government will go slow in enforcing the law.

“The transport leaders sought time to update the documents of their vehicles, and the drivers can update their licences. Now they should take steps to update their vehicles,” said BRTA Chairman Kamrul Ahsan.

“We directed the magistrates to operate the mobile court gently and fine nominal amounts in line with the law,” he added.

The major transport owner associations have been requesting the government to delay the execution of the new traffic law by a couple of months.

Khandakar Enayetullah, secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, told Dhaka Tribune: “We sent a letter to the Road Transport and Highways Division to grant us around two-months time to update the vehicles’ documents.” 

Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, led by former minister Shajahan Khan, will also propose some amendments to the government this evening after holding a two-day meeting, which began on Thursday.

Meanwhile, ruling Awami League-backed Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik League demanded the implementation of the Road Transport Act after one year.

At a press conference in National Press Club on Thursday, the leaders of the organization pressed a 12-point charter of demands, including a one-year extension of the previous law and amendment of several sections of the new act.

Sarak Paribahan Sramik League General Secretary Yunus Ali demanded the amendment of a few sections of the new law including Sections 66, 86, 87, 89, 104 and 105.

These provisions consists of the issue of driving licences, fitness.

certificates, accidents and punishment. 

They also demanded minimization of the punishments and fines laid out in the new act.

Training for transport workers recommended

However, Prof Shamsul Hoque, teacher of civil engineering at Buet, said: “The government should carry out a comprehensive campaign over the new traffic law; how it would be helpful to reduce accidents and bring discipline on the roads before amending it right away.

“Let the government run campaign to make drivers aware by saying if you are not careful you would be punished,” he added.

“If we cannot make drivers and their assistants aware of discipline on the roads, they will not be convinced,” said Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of Bangladesh Passengers’ Welfare Association,.

Besides, BRTA and Bangladesh police have started an awareness campaign after the implementation of the new law on November 1.