No rules for Road Transport Act yet

Unpreparedness affects enforcement

Shahin Akhter | Published: 00:36, Nov 09,2019


Enforcement of the much-talked about Road Transport Act 2018 is hampered as the rules for the law are yet to be made. 

Rights activists blamed lack of accountability of the government as well as its unpreparedness for the delay in framing the rules for the law that came into effect on November 1, about 13 months after its enactment.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority drafted the rules for the law in May 2019 but later inconsistencies traced in the draft and the Road Transport and Highways Division took a fresh move draft it again. 

Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader at a programme on Thursday said the process of making the rules was at the last stage and it was expected to be finalised before November 14 and then the law would be enforced. 

Jatiya Sangsad on September 19, 2018 passed Road Transport Bill replacing Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983 in the wake of countrywide students’ protests after two students of Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed by a reckless bus in Dhaka on July 29 of the year.

Along with the law, parliament passed the Digital Security Act 2018 on the same day and it came to effect without making any rule to implement it.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority drafted 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 were not being prepared which were mentioned in the draft.

In such situation the committee started to prepare a new draft. The committee held 15 meetings between June 23 and November 4 in this regard.

Supreme Court lawyer and Road Safety Foundation vice-president Jyotirmoy Barua said the ministry was actually not prepared for making the rules as it was not sure when the new law would be enforced.

He also said laws could be implemented without rules.  Jyotirmay questioned whether ministry had the jurisdiction to refrain from implementing a law after parliament enacted it. Questions also arise whether the ministry’s act was tantamount to contempt of parliament as it is sovereign, he said. 

Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh secretary general Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury alleged the government was not accountable and it was not preparedness to make the rules in time.

He said the law was 13 months ago and still the ministry was working on the rules.  ‘It is impossible to frame the rules correctly in just a week,’ he added.

The rules are scheduled to be drafted with three chapters –motor vehicle related definitions, motor driving licence issuing, expiry date, renewal and other issues, and motor vehicle registration, changing of ownership, fitness and other issues.

The road division’s assessment found the new law has no directives on the expiry date of fitness certificates and different permits, fixing fee of driving licences, different daily activities of the BRTA and definition of minibuses and registration process of such vehicles.

In the new law, there were no schedules on district-wise registration number system, traffic signs and signals, how to drive motor vehicles and syllabus on driving tests which were featured in the previous Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983, the assessment said.

The assessment also proposed including articulated buses in the definition of buses and it also said installation of new software was necessary to generate registration number of motor vehicles in three categories — light, medium and heavy.  

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