'There is no provision in the bill for taking any action against owners for their negligence'
BNP on Friday demanded changes to the Road Transport Bill recently approved by the Cabinet, claiming the bill would not help the demands of road safety protesters.
"All stakeholders, except transport owners, turned down the Road Transport Bill the Cabinet approved, as it will not help fulfil the students' demands for safer roads," said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir as quoted by UNB.
Speaking at a press conference at the party's Naya Paltan central office, he further said: "We demand the government reform the bill through discussions with those working to ensure road safety, in order to implement the students' demands."
On Monday, the Cabinet approved the draft Road Transport Bill with a provision for maximum 5 years imprisonment for any death or serious injury caused by reckless or negligent driving. The bill also stipulates the death penalty for intentional murder while driving.
Fakhrul claimed the bill lacks both specific guidelines for avoiding deaths or injuries by reckless driving, as well as provisions for strict punitive action.
"Everybody knows accidents take place because of the drivers. However, it is the owners’ responsibility to appoint drivers, maintain the fitness of vehicles, pay the drivers' salaries and ensure they get necessary rest. There is no provision in the bill for taking any action against owners for their negligence," he said.
The BNP leader said there was no provision in the bill for action against BRTA officials accused of corruption, and the High Court’s observations on the matter were “not given importance.”
Meanwhile, Fakhrul also criticized the government for “arresting and torturing students who waged the movement for safer roads,” and demanded their immediate release. Furthermore, he demanded that those who attacked the protesters be arrested.
Fakhrul rejected Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader's comment that BNP-Jamaat activists had attacked the Awami League party president's Dhanmondi office as well as students.
"We would like to clearly say that BNP had no involvement in violence during the student movement. We demand the arrest of those terrorists wearing masks and helmets brutally attacked journalists and demonstrators in presence of police," the BNP leader said.
Fakhrul further said BNP extended their support to the student movement as it was a justified one. "If our support is an offence, then the prime minister and police also committed the same crime."
About the spread rumours on social media during road safety movement, he claimed it was a result of the government’s attempt to obstruct and repress those who spoke the truth.
The BNP secretary general also criticised the government for arresting Drik Gallery Managing Director Shahidul Alam after he had given an interview to Al Jazeera Television. "Now people have no right to talk or express their views. The government is regulating the media and freedom of expression, as it is an unelected one."
BNP Standing Committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan and Nazrul Islam Khan were present at the press conference, among others.