The draft Road Traffic Act 2017 cannot ensure public safety and will not help curb road accidents, said civil society representatives on Thursday.
Speaking at a public dialogue, entitled “How Well Does the Road Transport Act 2017 Meet Citizen Expectations?” and jointly organised by Brac and Safe Road and Transport Alliance at the Brac Auditorium in Dhaka, civil society members questioned the aim of the draft law and expounded on how the guidelines set therein would be entirely ineffective in achieving that goal.
Former advisor to the caretaker government, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said: “Article 56 stipulates that all offences by drivers will be considered bailable and another provision imposes heavy fines on jaywalking. When you impose small punishments on big offences and big punishments on small offences, all it shows is a clear lack of practical thinking.”
He also said that the draft law was incomplete since the objective of the law was not clear and since the demands of the transport association leaders, workers and passengers had not been considered when drafting the law.
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He added that the draft also failed to lay out the framework for how the transport sector would flourish within a legal framework into an essential economic sector.
Nirapad Sarak Chai Chairperson Ilias Kanchon said: “The guilt for road accidents does not only lie on the drivers or the transport owners; we need to also blame those whose corruption allows driving licences to be handed out to those not fit to drive and the government agencies and law enforcement bodies who do not work toward proper implementation of road traffic laws.”
“This draft not only omits the concept of road safety in name, it has not considered it at all,” he added.
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Monjuly Kazi, journalist Mishuk Munier’s wife, ridiculed the act and said that in so far as road safety was concerned, the draft was a joke.
Barrister Sara Hossain, the executive director of Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST), spoke on various issues of the law and the complications in the implementation of those laws.
“This law fails to clarify where a victim can go for legal assistance in road traffic related cases,” she said.
Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners Association Chairman Faruq Talukder Sohel, Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation Organising Secretary Mokhlesur Rahman, Brac Road Safety Programme Director Ahmed Najmul Hussain and Advocacy for Social Change Director KAM Morshed also spoke at the dialogue, among others.