Rights body demands passengers’ representation in proposed transport law
12:00 AM, September 16, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:08 AM, September 16, 2018

Road Transport Act 2018: Ensure passenger representation

Road safety campaigner Mozammel urges PM's intervention, says a vested quarter wanted him in jail till JS passes the bill

Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity yesterday demanded the prime minister's intervention to include passenger representatives in the committees to be formed under the proposed Road Transport Act-2018. 

“If the passengers have no representation in the committees, sixteen crore passengers would be deprived of their right and the proposed law would only serve the interests of transport owners and workers,” the passengers' welfare platform said.

Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of the Samity, made the demand in a statement yesterday, two days after he was released from jail on bail in an extortion case, a lawsuit he termed “false”.

The road safety campaigner said he was a victim of vengeance of a vested quarter in the transport sector, who wanted to keep him behind bars until the parliament passes the proposed law.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Mozammel said a group of transport owners and workers feared that he might wage a movement against the proposed law to ensure representation of passengers, which might harm their interest.

He alleged that OC Dadan Fakir of Mirpur Police Station misbehaved with him when he was on remand for a day. Labelling him “a Jamaat-Shibir man”, the police official threatened to implicate him in 40 more cases over giving information to media about transport issues, he added.

Dadan, however, denied the allegations. “He [Mozammel] has a rivalry with transport leader Dulal, not with me. I neither misbehaved with him nor threatened to file cases against him,” the OC said.

Police had arrested Mozammel at his Sanarpar house in Narayanganj on September 6, two days after an extortion case was filed against him with Mirpur Police Station.

Hours after his arrest, the road safety campaigner was placed on one-day remand. A Dhaka court granted him bail in the extortion case on Tuesday.

But he was not freed as Kafrul police on Monday filed a petition with another Dhaka court seeking to show Mozammel arrested in a case over creating anarchy.

He walked out of jail on Thursday night, hours after the court rejected the police's petition.

The much-talked-about Road Transport Bill-2018 was placed in parliament on Thursday, amid criticism over a lenient punishment for deaths caused by reckless driving.

The House sent the Bill to the parliamentary standing committee on the road transport ministry for scrutiny and asked the body to submit its report within a week.

NO REPRESENTATION OF PASSENGERS

Mozammel in the statement said transport owners, workers, passengers and the government were the four major stakeholders in the transport sector, but no representation of passengers was ensured under the proposed law, even though there were registered passengers' organisations in the country.

As a result, passengers would not get remedies for charging extra fare, harassment, road accidents and anarchy on roads, he said.

“As there is no representation of passengers under the old law, passengers of the country are now held hostage by the leaders of transport owners and workers,” he said.

He demanded the prime minister intervene to ensure representation of passengers' bodies in all relevant committees like the regional transport committee, road safety committee and trustee board on compensation.

Talking to this correspondent, Mozammel said the draft law was an incomplete one as the government prepared it without taking opinions of passengers' organisations.

He said the passengers were deprived of their right as the Bill was prepared taking opinions from the transport owners and workers.

The road safety campaigner said he had been talking about lacking in the current law and incorporating some provisions in the proposed law for the betterment of the passengers.

A group of transport leaders and workers feared that he might launch a movement against the proposed law and that's why they wanted to keep him behind bars, Mozammel said.

He suspected that a section of government officials might have been behind his arrest as his statements on passengers' rights and problems in the transport sector went against them.

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