The Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) has finalised the draft of Road Transport Rules 2019, keeping dope test and making uniforms mandatory for drivers and conductors of public transports.
An inter-ministerial meeting chaired by RTHD secretary, Md Nazrul Islam, was held on January 21 to finalise the draft rules. At the meeting, concerned ministries and other stakeholders were asked to submit their opinions on the draft within the next seven days.
“Once their recommendations are submitted, the draft would be sent to the law ministry for vetting. After the vetting, the Road Transport Rules would be issued,” said Md Nazrul Islam.
He said, “According to the draft rules, drivers and conductors of public transport have to wear a particular uniform. But transport owners raised objection to the provision arguing that it would pose risk to the drivers as people would be able to detect them easily after an accident.”
Earlier, the Jatiya Sangsad on September 19, 2018, passed the Road Transport Act replacing Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983 in the wake of countrywide student protests after two students of Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed by a reckless bus in Dhaka on July 29 of the year.
The Road Transport Act came into effect from November 2019 without formulating any rules for the law.
However, due to the absence of rules, law enforcers and BRTA officials are facing various problems in enforcing the much-talked about Road Transport Act.
Against this backdrop, RTHD finalised the draft rules.
Mentionable, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority at first drafted the Road Transport Rules 2019 in May and submitted it to the Road Transport and Highways Division. On June 17, the division formed a 10-member committee to assess the draft and make amendment proposals if necessary.
The committee found many issues of the draft were not consistent with the present law, many important issues were not included in the draft and schedules, mentioned in the draft, were not being prepared.
In such a situation, the committee started to prepare a new draft. The committee held 15 meetings between June 23 and November 4 in this regard.
Objecting to the provision of a particular uniform, Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association secretary general, Khandaker Enayet Ullah, at the inter-ministerial meeting, said, “Usually drivers and conductors become the victim of public contempt after any road accident. In that case, a particular uniform would make it easier for the public to detect the driver.”
In Bangladesh, bus drivers, helpers and conductors have a high propensity to take drugs. Among the other reasons for the road accidents are their drug addiction.
The government hopes that if the drivers and conductors are recruited through dope tests, the law enforcement agencies will continue to conduct similar tests on the roads, reducing their tendency to take drugs. It will also reduce the fatality rate in accidents. In the meantime, police have started using the device for dope tests.
Article 13 (2) of the Draft Rule states that any person applying for renewal three years after the expiry of his license will be automatically rejected. Objecting to this, Rustam Ali, general secretary of Bangladesh Truck & Covered Van Owners Association said, “As the punishment is high in the new law, they do not want to sit behind the steering wheel.”
Article 12 (5) of the Draft Rule states that the BRTA will provide renewed license within 30 days of application. The owners of the transports have proposed to amend the clause and add provision for delivery within 15 days.
Under the new law and proposed rules, the car manufacturing companies will have no scope for modification beyond the specification. But the bus owners get the defective vehicles repaired and coloured and run those on the road. According to Khandaker Enayet Ullah, the number of such vehicles is about three lakh. The owners' association has proposed issuing an executive order so that these buses can be operated even after the new laws and regulations are in effect.
Under the rule, there will be a driving skills assessment committee. It is mentioned that the committee will test the efficiency of the drivers multiple times a week.
Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) Executive Director Khandaker Rakibur Rahman has proposed an increase in fines in Dhaka for illegal parking compared to other districts in the country.
During the inter-ministerial meeting, he said that the proper culture of parking is not yet developed in the country. In this case, unless the interpretation of the law is clear, a particular law enforcement agency may have the power to impose penalties.