The law-enforcing agencies across the country are prosecuting offenders under the Road Transport Act 2018 still on a limited scale.

The Highway Police confirmed to New Age that they could not yet prosecute any offender due to absence of rules for the new law.

In Dhaka city, the police are, however, filing cases on a limited scale as their logistic capacity including digital machines are being upgraded in keeping with the new law. 

Legal actions are being taken against serious violations of the law, said law enforcers.

These violations include driving vehicles on the wrong side of the road or on a footpath, driving without licences, and with no or expired documents of a vehicle.

They also said that cases were being regularly filed under the Penal Code 1860 for accidents and extortion.

But no cases are being filed against the drivers without proper licences, vehicles with modification and overloading, they added. 

Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader at a press conference on Wednesday said that cases were being lodged under the new road law across the country.

Law enforcers said that they had started to file prosecution under the new law since the beginning of the current week.

Traffic police at city intersections on Thursday told New Age that currently they were mainly encouraging the road users to follow the law while they sued road users only while committing major violations like driving on the wrong side of the road or on a sidewalk.

Earlier a traffic sergeant could sue a violator of traffic rules while currently they can do so only in the presence of a senior official like assistant commissioner. 

The new law came into effect on November 1 more than 13 months after its enactment in September 2018. The rules for the law were yet to be framed till Friday.

Amidst the work abstention of transport workers in many districts – which later turned into a countrywide strike on November 20 – the law came into enforcement on November 17.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on November 21 and November 23 in two separate meetings gave the transport owners and workers until June 30 to have proper driving licences and to update the documents to run their vehicles.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority director for enforcement AKM Masudur Rahman said that no gazette had been issued after the oral notice from the minister to allow time to the transport owners and workers.

Now they are monitoring the current conduct of the drivers and the owners, he added.

Outside the capital, superintendents of highway police in Cumilla, Gazipur and Bogura confirmed that till Friday they were not filing any case under the new law.

Cumilla highway police super Nazrul Islam on Thursday told New Age that till now they had not started realising fines through prosecution under the new law as the rules were yet to be framed.

‘If there are no rules then on what basis should we cut the points of the driving licences,’ he commented, adding that they were filing cases under the Penal Code 1860 for accidents and extortion.

Gazipur highway police super Ali Ahmed Khan the same day said that they were yet to prosecute offenders under the new law.

‘We are filing regular cases for accidents and extortion under the penal code,’ he said, adding that they were instantly arresting the drivers without licences and sending the vehicles without document to the dumping stations.

Bogura highway police super Md Mostafizur Rahman on Friday told New Age that they were not currently prosecuting any violator under the law and no decision was made yet as to when they would start doing so.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police joint commissioner (traffic north) Abdur Razzaq said that from the current week they had started filing prosecution under the new law on a limited scale. 

Earlier they had filed cases using Point Over Service machines under a software-based programme which was now being upgraded as per the new law’s sections and penalties, he said. ‘Then, as early as possible we will start filing cases digitally in full swing as the effectiveness and accuracy of filing cases digitally is better than that of filing cases manually,’ he said.   

Razzaq further said that this time assistant commissioners at every zone were directed to file prosecution with a team.

DMP deputy commissioner (traffic east) Md Saidul Islam on Thursday told New Age that currently they were not suing petty violators but major ones like those driving on the wrong side of the road or on a footpath. Following a gazette notification on October 16 the new law was enlisted into the schedule of the Mobile Court Act, 2009 without its section 84 and 98.

These sections deal with modification of vehicles and damaging life and properties by overloading respectively as these were out the purview of the Mobile Court Act with maximum three years’ imprisonment.

Currently, under the mobile court law, an executive magistrate can deliver punishment for highest two years of imprisonment.

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