POST TIME: 18 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 18 November, 2019 01:53:47 AM
Protest, strike as Road Transport Act takes effect

Protest, strike as Road Transport
Act takes effect

Mobile courts will go into operation from today as the much-talked-about Road Transport Act 2018 takes effect amid protests by transport workers and subsequent strike in several districts across the country. The home ministry yesterday issued a gazette notification in this regard incorporating the Road Transport Act 2018 into the schedule of the Mobile Court Act 2009 -- clearing the way for operation by mobile courts. Although the Act came into effect from November 1 formally, mobile courts run by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) could not implement it as the road transport authority was not incorporated into the schedule of Mobile Court Act.

After the latest gazette, mobile courts run by district administration will also be able to enforce the Road Transport Act. Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has said that the implementation of Road Transport Act 2018 will bring discipline on roads gradually.

However, the new law and penalties will be implemented in phases. The fines will be lower for the time being,” he said while addressing a city seminar. “The law will be effective from yesterday after a two-week deferment. However, the law enforcers have been instructed not to be harsh on drivers,” he said. The new higher sum of fine doesn’t mean more money for the state coffer, said the minister before describing it as a way to bring discipline on roads.

Describing strikes by transport workers in the past against

the new law as an attempt to create a ‘deadlock’, Quader warned that the traffic laws must be obeyed during driving.

Earlier on November 1, the government enforced the Road Transport Act 2018. A gazette in this regard was also issued.

But the new road transport law took time to be implemented as many traffic police officers, apart from passengers, pedestrians, drivers and transport workers, were still not fully aware of its details. Later, the government decided to extend the time for two weeks with a view to implementing the act by way of conducting drive and imposing fine. Police distributed leaflets at that time to make people aware.

On September 19 last year, the Road Transport Bill 2018 was passed in the parliament. It kept a provision of maximum five years’ jail for any death or serious injuries caused by reckless or negligent driving. But the government did not issue any gazette making the law operative as stipulated by the law.

Under the new law, a driving licence from now on will contain 12 points. A driver will lose one point for each offence. A driver’s licence will be cancelled if he/she loses all 12 points for committing offences like not using a seat belt, using a mobile phone while driving, driving on the wrong side of the road and racing, reckless driving and misbehaving with passengers, and parking vehicles at the wrong place.

Secretary General of passengers’ platform Jatri Kallyan Samity Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury told The Independent that the new Act with stricter and harsher provisions would be a better tool to rein in the errant drivers.

“Unskilled drivers are a major reason behind the lack of road discipline as well as fatal accidents. With the new act in place with the provision of 12 points in the licence, I believe the government has better tools to ensure that the drivers don’t break rules,” he said. However, different transport organisations have been demanding amendments to several sections of the law — thereby making all offences under the law “bailable”.