Proper implementation of Road Transport Act a must


The Road Transport Act 2018 is going to come into effect on 1 November, at long last. In a circular published on 23 October, the Road Transport and Highways Division confirmed this, something the country had been waiting for over a year. It is better late than never, but looking back at the incidents that took place in the recent past, we wonder if the law will at all be implemented.
Mismanagement on the roads and lack of accountability have led to the increasing number of road accidents. When the Awami League-led Grand Alliance took over in 2009, they started working on a Road Transport Act. Drafts after drafts were formulated, but making it into a law were delayed time and again amid protest from the transport owners and the workers. Soon, the AL government's first term was over.
They came to power again in 2014 but the situation did not change much. Soon the public demand for a law that can help prevent road accidents got momentum and the draft was approved in a cabinet meeting on 27 March in 2017. The transport owners and the workers now started staging demonstrations across the country, and the draft could not move any forward.
On 29 July in 2018, a speeding bus ran two college students over and the country went crazy in rage. To calm the protesters down, the law was passed in the parliament. The transport owners and the workers again tried to stop its course, by enforcing fresh strikes. On 28 October, they staged a 48-hour strike. A writ was also filed demanding a gazette notification.
So we know the road to the act's enforcement had not been an easy one. There is no doubt that they will try to hamper its implementation. The authorities have calmed the transport owners and the workers saying that the law can be amended. They did not step back from their demands, including declaring all the offences bailable, lowering the fine to Tk 500,000 from the proposed Tk 2.5 million and making an education till Class V the minimum qualification instead of the proposed education till Class VIII.
It is beyond doubt that punishing the crimes in this act will be very difficult because the transport owners and the workers will not make it easy. They are influential, but it is the duty of the state to turn a blind eye to all undue requests and implement laws that benefit the people.

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