New Road Transport Act: Changes likely as transport lobbies relentless

A committee formed with three ministers to look into how the Road Transport Act-2018 could be implemented, is going to propose changes to the act. Part of the law came into effect partially in November last year. The committee, led by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, finalised the proposals at its last meeting at the home ministry yesterday.

Most of the changes proposed would recommend reducing the fines for traffic violations, said multiple participants of the meeting. The associations of transport owners and workers have long been lobbying for changes to the act. "We have held several meetings with the stakeholders.

They [stakeholders] have some recommendations. We also gave our opinions, so that the act can be implemented properly," Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, also a member of the committee, said. "We have decided to propose bringing some changes to the act and adopt some issues in the rules [of the act]," he told The Daily Star last night.

"We will submit our proposal to the main committee [National Road Safety Council], which will make the final decision," Sujan, also former secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association, said. The Jatiya Sangsad passed the act in September 2018 following an unprecedented student movement for road safety. Students took to the streets across the country after two college students were killed by a bus on Airport Road in the capital on July 29 that year.

But the government did not put the law in effect until November last year. The committee of three ministers was formed on February 17 last year at the 26th meeting of the National Road Safety Council. Law Minister Anisul Huq is another member of the committee, which was supposed to submit its report in 14 work days.

The committee has yet to give its report. When the government took the initiative to enforce the law in November last year, transport associations called strikes demanding changes to several sections of the law. The government then decided not to put in effect several sections of the act.

For instance, the government decided not to penalise those who drive large vehicles with licences meant for light or medium vehicles until June this year. The deadline was extended for another year. It also waived until December this year the fines for not renewing the driver's licences and vehicles' fitness documents on time.

It also decided not to penalise illegal parking and modified vehicles.

YESTERDAY'S MEETING

Besides the three ministers, Shajahan Khan and Osman Ali, acting president and general secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers's Federation, and Mashiur Rahman Ranga and Khondaker Enayet Ullah, president and secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, among others were present at the meeting. Talking to The Daily Star after the meeting, Osman Ali said they have placed their proposals before the committee. "The law would not be amended fully.

But the amount of fine [mentioned in the act] is likely to be reduced. And some wordings of the act are expected to change," he said, "Actually, a portion of the act may be changed." Khondaker Enayet Ullah said, "There are some errors in the act.

Proposals have been made to amend those errors." Abdul Malek, an additional secretary of the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry, who was present at the meeting, said the committee has reviewed the entire act. The committee would now place its proposal before the National Road Safety Council, which would then send its proposals to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry and the ministry would send it to the Cabinet Division.

"It's a lengthy process and would take some time," he told The Daily Star last night.

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