Road transport act in force now

Quader says; his remark seems at odds with new law

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said the Road Transport Act-2018 would come into force “right now”, an assertion that contradicts the act.

As per section 1(2) of the act, the government must issue a gazette notification mentioning when the law would come into force.

But the government has not issued the gazette even in four months after parliament passed the act.

Quader, however, said there was no need to issue a gazette to put the law into effect.

The minister told reporters after visiting two mobile courts of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) in the capital's Manik Mia Avenue that the two mobile courts filed 42 cases, jailed three and realised Tk 98,000 in fines in just two hours.

“The BRTA had suspended its drives due to the election. As a result, the irregularities have increased,” said Quader, also the general secretary of the ruling Awami League.

He added that the authorities concerned have been directed to boost their drives.

Actions would be taken under the act against the accused, be it the owner or driver, he stressed.

The act has not yet taken effect because the government had been doing only the “routine tasks” before the election, he said. Now that the government has been re-elected, it will gain momentum.

Asked when the act would come into action, Quader said, “From right now. Has the act mentioned that it would come into force after six months?”

As a reporter pointed out that the government has to issue a gazette notification first, Quader said, “Gazette has already been issued. You don't know. Why are you talking without knowing [about it]?”

The reporter then told him that the government issued a gazette after the law was enacted, but no gazette was issued mentioning when it would take effect.

“Since the gazette was issued after enacting the law, there is no problem in making the act come into force. There is no necessity to issue a further gazette to make the law come into force,” the minister claimed.

In November last year, Nazrul Islam, secretary of road transport and highway division, told The Daily Star that the act could not take effect as officials had not been able to prepare its rules.

He added that the BRTA was asked to frame the rules.

The BRTA later requested the ministry to hire a consultant instead and currently conducts its mobile courts as per the Motor Vehicles Ordinance-1983, said an official.

Asked for his opinion yesterday, Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua said the government has to issue a gazette notification as per the act before enforcing the law.

“At least a one page gazette must be issued,” said Jyotirmoy, also vice chairman of the NGO, Road Safety Foundation.

In March 2017, the cabinet approved in principle the Road Transport Act. But the proposed act remained shelved at the law ministry for over a year amid opposition from transport workers and owners.

The cabinet and subsequently the parliament passed the law after last year's widespread protests for road safety.