If the government brings changes to the Road Transportation Act 2018 by succumbing to the pressure of transportation sector leaders, it will be tantamount to contempt of court, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, the executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
At a meeting of the committee to give recommendations for preventing road accidents and bringing discipline in the road transportation sector, organised by the National Road Safety Council, the specific demand of transportation owners and workers to reduce punishment for reckless driving goes against the verdict of the court, he said, according to a press release.
TIB urged the authorities concerned not to bow down to such anti-people and illogical demands that go against the prime minister's directive to establish good governance and discipline in the transportation sector.
Iftekharuzzaman said the demands for making all offences under the act 'bailable', reducing fines for transportation workers who are involved in road accidents, and changing the minimum educational qualification required to obtain driving licences to class-V will hinder justice, good governance and discipline in the transportation sector.
Though the authorities concerned argue that they are trying to keep the act in line with similar laws in neighbouring countries, it is obvious that there is a conspiracy to make the act weaker by giving in to the pressure of transportation sector leaders, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
In March 2017, the cabinet, in principle, approved the draft of the Road Transportation Act, but the document collected dust at the law ministry for over a year because key people in the transportation sector opposed some of its provisions.
Amid widespread protests, the cabinet hastily gave final approval to the draft law, and in September 2018 the Jatiya Sangsad passed the Road Transportation Act.
However, the government did not issue a gazette notification mentioning when the law would take effect. The government then said enforcing some sections of the act would require forming rules first.
But transportation sector leaders and several other organisations were demanding changes to some sections of the act.
The move to bring changes to the act through undue pressure will thwart the progress that has been made so far, said the TIB executive director.
He also urged the authorities concerned to form the rules for implementation of the law in line with the prime minister's directive to bring discipline in the transportation sector.
The government should adopt short, medium and long-term national road safety strategies in consultation with different stakeholders including the younger generation, he added.