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Clockwise from left, a man sneaks through a gap in the fence on a road median at Shantinagar; police personnel ride motorbike without wearing helmet at Kakrail and a running bus picks up a passenger in the middle of Dhaka-Chattogram Highway at Shanir Akhra in Dhaka. All the photos were taken after the Bangladesh Road Transport Act 2018 came into effect on Friday. — Sony Ramany and Abdullah Apu

The much talked-about Road Transport Act came into effect on Friday amid a chaotic transport sector situation across the country.

Many transport workers and other road users claimed that they were unaware of the new law while law-enforcing officials said that lack of awareness could not be an excuse in implementing the law.

Transport sector leaders, on the other hand, said that greater punishments would not bring order on the roads and they would observe the enforcement of the law before announcing their next programme.

The Jatiya Sangsad on September 19, 2018 passed the Road Transport Bill into an act replacing the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983.

The new road transport law came in the wake of countrywide student protests after two students of capital’s Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed by a recklessly-driven bus on July 29 of the year.

Along with the road law, the Digital Security Act, 2018 was passed the same day but only the latter had become effective earlier.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority is currently working to prepare rules for the road act while no rule was formulated for implementing the security act.

The road transport law came into effect with fines  for violators ranging from Tk 5,000 to Tk 5 lakh and imprisonment from one month to five years.

As per a provision of the new law, the punishment for causing serious injuries or death to any person by rash or negligent driving is maximum five years of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 5 lakh or both.

The cases under this provision are non-bailable.

Previously, such cases were bailable and the punishment for the offence was maximum three years of imprisonment.

Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation leaders in a reaction at a press conference in the capital on Thursday said that they would observe the law in action before giving their next programme.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association will hold a press conference to give their reaction on the law today (Saturday).

On Friday, at many places in the capital and on major highways transport workers said that they did not know about the new law clearly.

Many pedestrians also echoed their lack of knowledge about the law. 

Police personnel at many places were seen on the day to distribute leaflets among road users for making them aware about the law. 

Additional IGP (current charge of highway police) Mahbubur Rahman told New Age that the allegation of not being aware about the law by the transport workers was not true.

‘The government worked on the law for a long time and many meetings were already held with transport owners and workers in this regard,’ he said.

He expressed the hope that increased levels of fines would make people become more alert in following the new law.

The new law provides that driving without the driving licence would entail maximum six months of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 25,000 or both and driving without vehicle registration maximum six months of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 50,000 or both.

It also fixed punishment for defying traffic signs or signals at maximum one month of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 10,000 or both and punishment for using horns in violation of the rules maximum three months of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 10,000 or both. 

As per the law, if someone does not use helmet on motorcycles then he or she might face maximum three months of imprisonment or fine of Tk 10,000 or both.

The punishment for using mobile phones during driving is maximum one month of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 5,000 or both, the law says. 

The punishment for not hanging fare charts and for charging extra fare in public transports is maximum one month of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 25,000 or both and the punishment for changing contract vehicles’ meters and charging extra fare is maximum six months of imprisonment or maximum fine of Tk 50,000 or both, it continues.

PRESCRIBED PUNISHMENTS

- Five-year jail or Tk 5 lakh fine for serious injuries or death by rash or negligent driving
- 6-month jail or Tk 25,000 fine for driving without licence
- 6-month or Tk 50,000 fine for vehicle without registration
- 1-month jail or Tk 10,000 fine for traffic signal violation
- 3-month jail or Tk 10,000 fine usin horn violating rules
- 3-month jail or Tk 10,000 fine for riding motorcycle without helmet
- 1-month jail or Tk 5,000 fine for using mobile phone while driving

News Courtesy: www.newagebd.net

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