Proposed Road Transport (Amendment) Act, 2024 is Self-Destructive: TIB

Staff Reporter: Dhaka, 28 March 2024:  Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has voiced grave concerns regarding efforts to reduce punishments and penalties within certain sections of the Road Transport (Amendment) Act, 2024. Despite the optimistic inception of the Road Transport Act 2018 following protests by young students, its implementation remains far from reality, leading to a surge in street anarchy, lawlessness, and insecurity. TIB asserts that the exclusion of public interest in the proposed amendment will steer the law away from its core objectives, weaken it further, and ultimately intensify the hostage situation regarding road management by owners and workers.

Media reports indicate that the cabinet has given approval in principle to the draft of the Road Transport (Amendment) Act, 2024, which includes amendments to at least 12 sections resulting in reduction in punishments and penalties for drivers and helpers. Media reports mentioned that penalties and punishments have been reduced in sections 69, 70, 81, 85, 86, 90, 98, and 105 of the proposed amendment.

However, the draft Road Transport Act 2024 includes provisions, such as compulsory vehicle insurance [Section 60(2)], assigning supervisors (Section 71), and displaying fare chart with penalties for demanding or collecting extra fares (Section 80). TIB Executive Director (ED) Dr. Iftekharuzzaman has cautiously praised these three specific amendments, as these are in line with TIB’s research-based recommendations. He mentioned, “While it was crucial to logically increase punishments and penalties to establish order in the road transport system and ensure citizens’ safety, any decrease in penalties through the amendment will worsen chaos on the roads and pose a greater risk to the public. Furthermore, it will promote tendency to break laws among drivers and workers, leading to further disorder on the roads. Despite the government’s apparent initiatives to improve road safety, the proposed amendment seems to go against these efforts. On one hand, it risks increasing irregularities, corruption, and street disorder, and on the other hand, it will further raise the number of tragic loss of lives.”

A recent study conducted by TIB has underscored the gravity of the hostage situation imposed by a faction of transport owners and workers in the road transport system. Dr. Iftekharuzzaman remarked on this issue, “The move to reduce punishments and penalties through amending the law is apparently intertwined with the hostage situation. It is clear that politically-backed owners’ and workers’ associations wield influence over the government to push for the amendments that lessen penalties. If these amendments are approved in the parliament, it will disregard the public interests. We implore the government to veer away from this self-destructive course.”

The TIB ED also voiced profound concerns over lack of transparency in the draft amendment process, as none of the proposed steps were made publicly accessible for the relevant stakeholders. TIB asserts that amending the law under pressure and influence from the very group, meant to be regulated by it, undermines its universal acceptance and effectiveness in meeting public demands and ensuring safety. Additionally, such amendments risk deviating the law from its original objectives. Therefore, TIB strongly advocates the inclusion of opinions from experts and other stakeholders before finalising the Act.


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