Road Transport Act: Law goes into effect, workers still upset | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 01, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:27 AM, November 01, 2019

Road Transport Act: Law goes into effect, workers still upset

Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation yesterday demanded amendments to some sections of the Road Transport Act-2018 that is going to be enforced today.

The law mentions that certain offences are not bailable.

The federation also demanded that accident-related cases cannot be filed under section 302 of the Penal Code-1860 without investigation. The section deals with murder.

“We want to see accident cases are not being filed under section 302, instead of section 304(B). In investigation, if a driver is found guilty of killing someone purposely, then we’ll have no complaint if section 302 is used instead of section 304(B),” said Shajahan Khan, executive president of the federation.

“We will protest if an accident is considered murder due to influence,”Shajahan, a ruling Awami League lawmaker and former shipping minister, said while making a statement at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity.

On October 22, the Road Transport and Highways Division issued a gazette, stating that the law would be effective today, without any changes.

Parliament passed it in September last year.

Section 105 of the act says no matter what this act contains, 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, such person would 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 of the act 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).

Responding to a query, Shajahan said the law says a driver cannot operate a vehicle without “appointment letter” while an owner cannot employ a driver without the letter.

However, the law does not specify punishment for violations, he said, adding that they have proposed fining the person Tk 5,000.

In case of accident casued by overloading of a vehicle, there will be up to three years’ imprisonment or up to a Tk 3 lakh fine or both, Shajahan said.

“This punishment is harsh,” he said, adding the federation’s proposal is to reduce the imprisonment to up to one year and fine up to Tk one lakh.

The law says drivers must pass class-VIII.

A conductor, who needs to pass class-V only, can develop driving competency from years of practical experiences. So, the federation’s proposal is to consider experiences of such conductors, who lack educational qualification, when they seek driving licences, he said.

The law says offences under the provisions 84, 98 and 105 are not bailable.

But if drivers are not granted bail, then there will be a further shortage of drivers, Shajahan said.

So, the federation’s suggestion is to grant drivers conditional bail, he added.

Shajahansaid their position was to not oppose enforcement of the law but to make sure that workers are not harassed due to its enforcement, and the law is also not being misused.

He said investigation of accident-related sensational cases has to be carried out jointly by police and Accident Research Institute of Buet, stressing the need for formulating a set of rules for the RTA quickly.

Shajahan said the federation would closely observe law enforcement agencies’ role in enforcing the act.

He also urged the government to implement the 111-point recommendations of a committee formed over reducing accidents and bringing back discipline on the roads.

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