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Govt yet to set new road transport law in motion

  • Published at 01:24 am March 21st, 2019
WEB- Student protest demanding safer roads
Protesting students seen holding placards while blocking the Pragati Sharani road of Dhaka demanding safe roads on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Road Transport Act, 2018, was passed in parliament five months ago

Long after passage of a road safety act, the new law is not yet enforced as the government has not published a notification assigning its implementation date. And the rules for the act have not been drafted yet.     

Hard on the heels of last year’s student movement for safe roads, the Jatiya Sangsad passed the Road Transport Act, 2018, on September 19 last year and subsequently the president also gave his consent to the new law on October 9 the same year. A gazette notification was also published about the passage of the law but it was mentioned that the government would set the law in motion after fixing an implementation schedule with an official notification. 

But the law is not in application as that notification has not been published yet, officials concerned at the Road and Highways Division told Dhaka Tribune.  

Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, a Supreme Court lawyer, told the Dhaka Tribune: “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 in this act intentionally, to delay implementation of the law.”

According to the act, government by a notification will decide the date for implementation of this law.  Investigation, trial, appeal etc, of any offense committed under the road transport act will follow the Code of Criminal Procedure,1898.  

Jyotirmoy said: “It is clear that the act needs no immediate rules for implementation as it is stated in the act that  all it’s procedures will follow the code of criminal procedure,1898.”

According to the road transport act, if anyone causes an accident and kills or injures anyone seriously by reckless and negligent driving, s/he will have to face a maximum sentence of five years in jail or a fine of Tk500,000 or both. 

The motor vehicles ordinance, 1983, will be replaced by the new road transport act, 2018. 

Hossain Zillur Rahman, executive chairman of power and participation research centre, also a former  caretaker government adviser said: “When the student movement was going on last year, the government approved the act to meet the demands of agitating students. Now it is delaying in implementing the law. This delay is not technical, but rather a negligence of high level policy makers.

“The digital security act came into action without delay but the road transport act has not, though parliament approved both acts on the same day!” he added.

Md Abdul Malek, additional secretary (Administration)  road transport and highways division, said: “All work is done on our part. The ministry of law will give a notification in which they will say the act will be in action from a particular date.”

Abu Saleh Sk Md Zahirul Haque, secretary law and justice division, said this is a matter for the legislative and parliament division. Neither the law minister, Anisul Haq, nor the secretary (legislative and parliamentary affairs), Mohammad Shahidul Haque, could be reached for comment on Wednesday.  

However, to curb road mishaps and bring back discipline on roads and highways, a 15-strong committee was formed on February 17. Headed by former shipping minister Sajahan Khan, the committee was mandated to submit a report in 14 working days. But the committee is yet to submit the report.