Terming all demands of agitating students “logical”, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan yesterday said they have taken the demands into consideration and will implement those.
“We are taking steps so that the offender gets highest punishment as per law,” the minister said and requested the students to call off their protest.
He was speaking at a press briefing at his secretariat office, after a meeting with leaders of transport owners and workers, police, and officials concerned.
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said draft of the long-awaited Road Transport Act will be placed before next week's cabinet meeting and the draft act is expected to be passed in the next parliament session.
Once the law is enacted, the ministry will be able to take strict measures to bring discipline in the transport sector and to curb road accidents as well as traffic congestion, Quader said at a press briefing at Setu Bhaban in capital's Mohakhali.
Their remarks come at a time when a massive student protest is going on across the country, sparked by deaths of two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College on Sunday, when a bus ploughed into a crowd on Airport Road in the capital.
GO BACK TO CLASS: HOME MINISTER
The home minister said law enforcers have already arrested four drivers and helpers of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan, and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has already canceled registrations and route permits of the buses.
“Inquiry is being carried out so that he [driver] gets highest punishment. The government will take necessary steps to that end,” he said.
The minister said they have come to know about the demands of the students through different mediums, and found all those logical. They are already being taken into consideration, he said.
The minister said representatives of owners and workers would start checking documents of buses and trucks at every terminal in the capital, so that no unfit vehicle can ply the roads and no one can drive any vehicle without licence.
Asked whether the initiative to check documents by owners and workers -- who are often themselves the culprits of rule violations -- will be effective, the home minister said if necessary, law enforcers will help.
“How would we implement such a decision without involvement of owners and workers?” he questioned.
The minister said the agitation is creating public suffering as the entire city has almost collapsed, which is unexpected.
“So I am requesting my students to withdraw their blockade,” he said.
Taking advantage of the agitation, a vested quarter is vandalising and torching buses, the minister said, adding that from July 29 to 31, a total of 309 vehicles were vandalised, and eight -- including three police vehicles and one fire truck -- were torched.
Shipping Minister and transport workers' leader Shajahan Khan, whose making light about the accident sparked huge criticism, was also present at the briefing. He said they will help implement the decisions taken at the meeting.
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia, BRTA Chairman Moshiar Rahman, transport owners' leaders -- Mashiur Rahman Ranga, also the state minister for Rural Development and Co-operatives Division, Khondaker Enayet Ullah, Faruk Talukdar Sohel and worker leader Osman Ali -- took part the meeting.
DRAFT ROAD TRANSPORT ACT TO GET CABINET NOD NEXT WEEK: QUADER
Obaidul Quader said the prime minister on Tuesday called the law minister to take step so that the draft of the Road Transport Act can be placed before the cabinet meeting to be held on Monday.
The cabinet in March last year approved the draft law on principle, which was then sent to the law ministry for vetting.
Terming the students' movement logical, he asked them to return to classes since the prime minister has already given several directives in this regard.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Anisul Huq said his ministry yesterday finished vetting of the proposed act, incorporating provisions of “adequate punishments” for the offences in road accidents.
He told reporters at his secretariat office that all relevant issues including fitness of vehicles, driving licence, insurance and drivers' training have been addressed in the proposed law.
The minister said all the victim stakeholders will get justice after the law is formulated.
He also said steps would be taken for quick trial of the case related to Sunday's accident, and culprits will get exemplary punishment.
As per the draft act, drivers must have education up to at least eighth grade and helpers at least fifth grade; drivers will face death penalty for murder, and life-term imprisonment for offences amounting to culpable homicide but not murder; maximum two-year jail or Tk 3 lakh fine or both for driving with a fake licence, and maximum six months' jail or Tk 50,000 fine or both for driving without a licence.