No case will be filed under the new Road and Transport Act (RTA) for the next seven days when public awareness programmes on the matter will be conducted, said Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday.
“Major developments in the road sector have taken place, but there is a lack of discipline…. It may take time but we believe this law will bring discipline on the roads,” he said during an awareness programme at Signboard area in Narayanganj district.
The minister said accidents and traffic jams were major concerns and tougher laws were needed to solve those, but awareness was also needed.
“It is not possible to bring discipline by implementing laws only. People have to be aware… We are now campaigning for that,” he added.
Meanwhile, transport owners yesterday hailed the new law, but urged the authorities to ensure the law was not misused to harass their workers.
“We give full support [to the law]. We are urging all transport owners and workers to follow the law,” said Khandakar Enayetullah, secretary general of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association, at a press conference in their Paribagh office.
The owners, however, reiterated some of their demands, including making some non-bailable offences under the law bailable.
“There is a shortage of drivers… If drivers are not given bail, the shortage will deepen. What will happen then?” he said.
Enayetullah also demanded immediate formation of the rules and regulations of the law.
The sanction of large fines on transport owners by courts at different times was also discussed at the programme.
“If the owners of the vehicles have proper papers and hire drivers having licences, they shouldn’t be held responsible [for accidents]. But we still see that large fines are given to owners,” said Enayetullah, adding such decisions would harm the sector.
Referring to different sections of the act, the association leader said that the law could not be imposed in a day. “It has to be done gradually,” he added.
Lawmaker Mashiur Rahman Ranga, also president of the association, said, “It will not be right to blame a single sector for the accidents. The actual culprits should be identified through investigation.”
On October 22, the Road Transport and Highways Division issued a gazette stating that the Road Transport Act (RTA) would be effective from Friday.
Parliament had passed the RTA in September last year, replacing the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1983, following mass student movement for safe road last year.
According to section 105 of the new act, if anybody gets seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle-related accident, it would be considered an offence under the relevant sections of the Penal Code-1860.
However, no matter what section 304(B) of the Penal Code contains, if anybody causes accident by reckless and negligent driving, and kills or injures someone severely, the person will face a maximum sentence of five years in jail or fine or both, reads section 105 of the RTA.
The offences that fall under section 105 are not bailable.
The maximum punishment under section 302 of the Penal Code is death penalty while it is life imprisonment under section 304(B).
The law also hands hefty fines for violation of traffic rules.