The Road Transport Act 2018 officially came into effect on Friday throughout Bangladesh, more than a year after it was passed into a law.
However, the authorities concerned are not fully prepared to implement the newly introduced law. Several sources from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Traffic Division revealed that they only drafted a chart of fines for traffic violations under the new act.
The Traffic Division spent Friday creating awareness about the Road Transport Act 2018 instead of implementing the new law due to a lack of further details from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.
Sergeant Farhad Hossain of the Traffic Division (South) told The Business Standard, "We have yet to receive any directive regarding the enforcement of the new act from senior officials. We did not fine anyone or file any case near the Jigatola area till Friday afternoon.
"It is a weekly holiday, and there was no traffic congestion and no one was committing any traffic violations. We were busy raising awareness among the people using the road."
Meanwhile, Abdullah Al Mamun, senior assistant commissioner of Badda traffic zone, said, "We have yet to take any stern action after the new act came into effect. We are just observing people's activities on the road and trying to raise awareness among people regarding the law.
"Hopefully, we will start taking legal action within the next two-three days."
Abul Kalam Azad, a Bismillah Paribahan driver plying the Motijheel-Gazipur route, said the drivers do not know anything about the new law.
"I have seen visible traffic monitoring during this weekly holiday. Transportation leaders had warned us to drive carefully, but I do not know anything else regarding the matter," he said.
Md Habid, a driver of Bikash Paribahan, said all he knows is the drivers will face more fines under the new act.
"The bus owners and the association did not tell us anything regarding the new law, they just told us to be cautious," he added.
Traffic sergeants said drivers of cars and motorcycles are more aware of the new law.
"Public transportation drivers are not very aware of the new law. But we are trying our best to inform them," said Shafiq Ahmed, the sergeant of Khamarbari area.
In the absence of a set guideline by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police has prepared a chart of fines for traffic violations to aid the implementation of the act.
The chart is yet to be finalised by the authorities concerned.
Under the now defunct Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983, the highest punishment for traffic law violation is two years of imprisonment, while the minimum jail term is one month. The maximum fine is Tk5,000 and the minimum is Tk100.
However, under the Road Transport Act 2018, the maximum fine is up to Tk5 lakh and the minimum fine is Tk5,000.
The Traffic Division files on average 5,000 cases every day. In August this year, the total collection of fines for traffic rule violation was Tk11 crore. Following the new chart, the amount of fines will increase significantly if the number of traffic rule violations remains the same.
Responding to a query, Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Additional Commissioner Mofiz Uddin said, "We have some plans regarding the implementation of the new act, which will be ready soon."