Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has failed to meet four deadlines to prepare the draft of the rules for the Road Transport Act-2018, halting implementation of the law.
At the monthly coordination meeting of the Road Transport and Highway Division on April 17, the division’s secretary expressed discontent over the delay and ordered preparing the draft rules within 15 days. But the BRTA failed again.
Besides, a three-minister committee, formed on February 17 to look into how the act can be implemented, was supposed to submit its report within 14 working days. The committee too has not submitted the report yet.
So, the act, which was passed by parliament in September last year, has remained non-functional for seven months, forcing the authorities to use the Motor Vehicles Ordinance-1983 despite its many limitations.
The cabinet in March 2017 approved in principle the proposed Road Transport Act, but the draft act remained stuck at the law ministry for over a year as transport leaders opposed some of its provisions.
The Jatiya Sangsad passed the law following an unprecedented student agitation for safe road after two college students were killed by a bus at Dhaka’s Airport Road on July 29.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader then had said discipline on roads will be restored once the act comes into force.
However, the government, as per requirement of the law, did not issue a gazette notification determining when the law will come into effect.
The government said preparing rules for the act is a must for execution of some of the sections. So, they will make the act operational after enactment of the rules.
BRTA FAILS TO MEET DEADLINES
Three days after the president approved the act on October 8 last year, the BRTA wrote to the road transport and bridges ministry to hire a consultant to frame the rules.
Instead of appointing any consultant, the road transport and highway division of the ministry formed a committee led by the BRTA director (administration) to prepare the rules.
The BRTA, citing inability to frame rules due to a lack of skilled and full-time manpower for this, again requested the ministry to hire a consultant in November once again.
But the division rejected it and asked the committee on December 23 to prepare draft rules within two months.
The division also said it would consider appointing consultant at the time of finalisation of the rules, according to meeting documents.
The division, in its monthly coordination meeting on February 14, asked the BRTA to submit the draft rules by March 15. In its next meeting, the BRTA was asked to submit the draft within April 4.
But the BRTA failed to meet the deadline, and Nazrul Islam, secretary of the division, on April 17 meeting expressed discontent over the delay. The BRTA was asked to send the draft within 15 days.
BRTA failed again.
BRTA Chairman Moshiar Rahman on May 19 told this correspondent, “We have almost completed it and will submit to the ministry within this week.”
About the delay, he said, “The British government had taken one year to prepare Motor Vehicles Rules, 1940, but we took only three months.”
COMMITTEE FORMED, NO PROGRESS
After the passage of the act, Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation observed a two-day strike on October 28-29 last year demanding changes to the law.
Bangladesh Goods Transport Owners Workers United Council, forum of transport owners and workers carrying goods, also observed a strike for three days in Dhaka to press for similar demands.
Road safety campaigners alleged that the delay in implementation of the law was due to pressure created by transport workers and owners.
They said it is a lame excuse that an act cannot come into effect without rules.
The parliament passed Road Transport Act and Digital Security Act-2018 on the same day -- September 19 last year. Digital Security Act has already been in operation even before enactment of rules.
Against this backdrop, at the 26th meeting of National Road Safety Council on February 17, a three-minister committee was formed to look into how the act can be implemented.
The committee comprising law, home and railways ministers did not hold any meeting, let alone submitting the report, sources said.
Law Minister Anisul Huq on April 7 told this newspaper that they were supposed to hold a meeting on April 16, but the meeting was deferred as the home minister would go abroad.
He refuted the allegation that pressure from transport leaders caused the delay.