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Road traffic still far from normal

  * Drivers, owners get until June to ready papers * Guidelines in final stage, says Quader


FE REPORT | Published: November 22, 2019 10:32:54 | Updated: November 22, 2019 17:14:45


Road transport services were yet to return to normal on Thursday despite withdrawal of strikes by transport owners and workers after a late night meeting with the Home Minister over the newly-enacted Road Transport Act 2018.

Bus services in different parts of the country, particularly in southwestern and eastern regions, still remained suspended.

A section of transport workers in their respective local areas refrained from driving their buses fearing tougher punishment under the new transport law enacted recently. Some of them continued their strike demanding an amendment to the law.

Long route buses, mainly from the Mohakhali bus terminal, could not leave the city due to reported obstructions in Narsingdi, Tangail, Khulna and Naogaon.

Bangladesh Truck and Covered Van Goods Transportation Workers and Owners Association withdrew their countrywide strike around 1:30 am as Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal set a deadline of June next for readying necessary documents before full enforcement of the law.

The minister in the meeting lasting four hours and a half and attended by representatives of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Highway Police and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) also assured the transport leaders of sending their demands in the form of recommendations to the authorities concerned.

However, the BRTA continued its soft stance while conducting drives against violation of the law. It filed only 37 cases involving a fine of Tk 35,500 on Thursday.

Rustom Ali Khan, convener of the truck and covered van goods transportation association, told the FE that the meeting with the home minister got a hint that drivers would not run their vehicles with the non-bailable offence on their heads.

He said drivers accepted the time given by the Home Minister for updating their respective driving licences and readying other necessary papers.

While inaugurating the traffic awareness fortnight at Rajarbagh Police Lines in the city on Thursday, the Home Minister said the recommendations of the transport workers and owners were sent to the ministry concerned.

"If there is any inconsistency, the ministry will look into the matter," he said.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at a party programme on Wednesday night also assured the transport sector of not taking any stern action under the new transport law.

FE correspondents reported that buses from Khulna and Jashore were off the streets on Thursday. But long routes buses from Khulna left the city in the evening. But hardly any goods carrying vehicles were there on the streets from Benapole.

FE Correspondent from Benapole said about 25 vehicles were ready to start transportation of goods tonight (Friday night).

Khandaker Enayet Ullah, president of Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association, said they were expecting the situation to be normal by today (Friday).

According to bdnews24.com, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the guidelines on the new road transport act were in the final stage.

"Once it is done, there won't be any problem with the enforcement of the law," he told a news conference at the Awami League's Dhanmondi office on Thursday.

"There is no reason to interrupt traffic. There will be no unnecessary harassment by law enforcement. The home minister himself is guiding the matter and senior police officials have made it clear that they will enforce the law properly," said Quader.

"We are drafting the rules by taking the current situation into consideration. There's no reason for the situation to get out of hand. Everything was resolved through discussion."

The transport minister thanked the owners of the trucks and the cover-vans for withdrawing the strike in the public interest.

smunima@yahoo.com

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