Giving in to the pressure from transport associations, the government has waived the late fines for vehicle owners and drivers who failed to update their documents on time.
The vehicle owners and drivers would enjoy the benefit till June 30, according to a circular of the road transport and bridges ministry issued yesterday.
The order came into effect immediately.
The notice said this was for the last time the government was going to grant such a waiver. The ministry asked Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) to circulate the information among the transport owners.
Under the traffic law, vehicle owners and drivers have to pay a certain amount of fine for failing to update the vehicle’s fitness certificate, tax token, route permit and licence.
Talking to The Daily Star, two BRTA officials said although the waiver would be applicable for all types of vehicles and drivers, commercial vehicles like bus, truck, and covered van and their drivers would actually be benefited by the order.
This is because most of the private vehicles and their drivers update documents regularly, but many commercial vehicles and their drivers don’t do so, the officials added.
A transport leader said more than 1 lakh commercial vehicles might come under the coverage of the fine waiver.
Exempting the vehicle owners and drivers from late fines was one of the major demands of transport workers when they went on strikes in different districts in November last year protesting the implementation of Road Transport Act-2018.
The new law stipulates hefty fines for operating vehicles with expired documents. For example, the maximum punishment for operating an unfit vehicle is six month’s jail or a fine of Tk 25,000 or both.
Under the previous law, the punishment was three month’s jail and a fine of Tk 2,000 or both.
During the strikes in November, transport leaders placed the demand at several meetings with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan. The minister had said he would make necessary recommendations to the authorities concerned in this regard.
The BRTA last month sent a proposal regarding the waiver of fines to the road transport and bridges ministry. The ministry forwarded the proposal to the finance ministry which gave the approval on January 8, officials said.
TO GET BENEFIT
Khondaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, said waiving the late fines was one of their main demands and it was placed at meetings with the government high ups.
He said more than 1 lakh commercial vehicles, mostly trucks, would be benefitted from the order as owners of those vehicles didn’t update their documents, especially tax token.
The government earlier had waived late fines several times and the last waiver was offered around two years ago. That’s why many vehicle owners were waiting for this opportunity, he told The Daily Star.
Replying to a question, he said, “I don’t want to term the waiver an undue benefit. It can be called an irregularity. But different sectors have already been given such benefits.”
Road Transport and Highway Division Secretary Nazrul Islam said the government on several occasions gave such waivers so that vehicle owners and drivers at least pay the original fees.
“We have done this following due process and taking the consent of the finance ministry,” he told this newspaper yesterday.
Asked whether the government gave in to the pressure from transport associations, he said, “This is not giving into the pressure. Rather this is a process of making the transport owners and drivers obey the law.”
As per the existing rate, a fitness certificate defaulter has to pay 50 percent of the certificate fee per month as fine.
The owner of a light vehicle like a car has to pay a fitness certificate fee of Tk 450 a year. For failing to pay the fee on time, he has to pay a fine of TK 259, including 15 percent VAT, per month.
For defaulting on tax token fee, the owner of a vehicle has to pay one-and-a-half times more money on the fee as fine for one year.
The owner of a commercial vehicles has to pay Tk 5 per day as fine after the expiry of its route permit.
The driver of a vehicle has to pay Tk 230 per year as fine for failing to renew his driving licence on time.
According to BRTA statistics, there were about 42.17 lakh registered vehicles in the country till October last year.
The organisation has issued around 23 lakh driving licences since the country’s independence in 1971.
About 4 lakh registered vehicles were operating on the road without fitness certificates till October last year.