It is most unfortunate that the transport workers in nine districts of the country have called a strike demanding amendments in some sections of the Road Transport Act-2018. Although the new transport act came into effect on November 1, it could not be enforced because of lack of preparation from the government side and also because the owners and workers had wanted some time to obtain the legal papers for their vehicles. Now that the law finally has became effective, from November 18, more than 13 months after it was passed in the parliament, the workers in a few districts have again called a strike, causing immense sufferings to the people.
What we do not understand is why the transport workers have had to call a strike in the first place when the new law was finalised keeping in consideration the demands of the workers and the owners. The current law has been watered down quite a bit because of opposition from them. Even so, the transport workers have been going on with their unrealistic strike, demanding that all offences be made “bailable.” In the new law, only one offence has been made non-bailable: the “offence” of killing someone deliberately through reckless driving. The transport workers’ demand to make this offence bailable only goes to show their disregard for the rule of law.
Apparently, calling a strike at the drop of a hat has become a regular practice for the transport workers. Whenever there was any initiative from the government to implement the new act, transport workers went on strike holding the public hostage; whenever the court gave any verdict over any case filed in connection with road accidents, they have gone on strike. Does this mean that the transport workers are above the law? Does this mean that the new transport act cannot be implemented?
The Road Transport and Bridges Minister, Obaidul Quader, said: “We have to enforce the law ignoring the pressure we face, because the act was passed by parliament.” Therefore, we expect that no amount of pressure from the workers and owners will stop the government from implementing the law aimed at making roads safer. Although the strike was called only in a few districts, it has caused huge sufferings to the commuters. The government must be firm and not tolerate such strikes that severely disrupt public life.