Road Transport Bill 2018 attached greater priority to protect the interests of transport owners and workers, urban planners said at a news conference on Wednesday.
They said that the bill attached lesser priority to protect public interests.
Therefore, they pointed out, the bill did not envisage making transport operators accountable and ensuring safe roads.
At the news conference called by the Bangladesh Institute of Planners at its office in the capital, urban planners also asked the government to make the government’s road construction departments and agencies accountable for accidents in the proposed law.
They said that the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority should also be made accountable for road accidents in the proposed law.
They asked the government to ensure good governance in the transport sector by regulating the vested quarters controlling the sector through anarchy.
The cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the bill stipulating five years’ jail to a driver for causing death by reckless driving.
The Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983 prescribes three years’ jail with a fine of Tk 25 lakh for causing death on the road.
The government after keeping the bill on the backburner since 2010, approved it on Monday after school children took the streets in protest against deaths of two fellow students at Kurmitola in the capital on July 29.
Countless school children took to the streets chanting, ‘We want justice.’
Planners said planning, designing and maintenance of roads were as important as the role of driver on the wheels.
Transport workers’ rights, their training, counseling and fitness of vehicles were important issues for safety on roads, said BIP general secretary Adil Mohammad Khan.
He called for the creation of dedicated cell for investigating into traffic accidents.
Adil called for fixing working hours for drivers and transport workers.
He said that there should be mandatory annual health tests of drivers and the other transport workers and mouth swab tests to detect whether or not anyone was drug addicted.
The law, he suggested, should make it mandatory to pay them livable wages.
BIP president AKM Abul Kalam said that regulating private cars, bus route franchising and proper maintenance of footpaths and zebra crossings were important issues for reducing the risks of road accidents.
BIP vice-president Akter Mahmud identified traffic jams as a major factor behind road accidents.
He said that drivers can’t keep their cool when they face unending traffic jams.
He said that efficient mass public transits alone could end the capital’s maddening traffic jams.
BIP joint-secretary Mohammad Mazharul Islam emphasized on the importance of strict and unbiased law enforcement as the effective deterrent against road accidents.
Former BIP president Golam Rahman said that the law should make it mandatory to pay compensations to road accident victims.
He asked the government to make the bus owners accountable under the law and also protect the drivers’ legitimate rights.
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