Most people are not aware of the law’s finer details
As the long-awaited Road Transport Act, 2018 went into effect across Bangladesh on Friday, Dhaka saw a lax first day of the law’s enforcement.
Members of the Traffic Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), who enforce the new law on the streets, were seen being lenient on commuters, and pedestrians. Sergeants were present at the busy intersections, and roundabouts – but not all of them.
At some places, traffic sergeants were seen stopping people from jaywalking, and informing them about the new law, but in most places, they were seen going easy on the pedestrians.
Sergeant Md Shafiullah, who was on duty at the Bijoy Sarani intersection, said they had been lenient on commuters, and are educating them about the new law, and its provisions.
“We have been informing people about what the new transport law entails, so that when we start implementing the law strictly, no one can make the excuse of not knowing about it,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Another sergeant working in the Mirpur Zone, requesting anonymity, said the electronic equipment they are using to fine rule-breakers still work according to the old law, and there are other technical issues that are causing problems as well.
DMP Additional Commissioner (Traffic) Mafiz Uddin Ahmed said the Traffic Division still needed to train their personnel, and acquire the necessary tools in order to effectively implement the new law.
“We also need a combined effort from the pedestrians, commuters, vehicle drivers, and law enforcement members to successfully enforce the law,” he added.
Speaking to reporters in Gazipur on Friday, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the Road Transport Act, 2018 would help to bring discipline to the roads, reports UNB.
“Our main target is to bring discipline to the country’s roads. We have taken it as a challenge,” he said.
Too strict on drivers?
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune on Friday, several drivers said the law was too strict on the drivers, imposing much higher fines than logical when the offence may not even be the driver’s fault.
Nahidul Islam, a driver working in a private company, went out with a rickshaw on Friday afternoon, trying to get some practice in rickshaw pulling.
“I used to pull rickshaw, but stopped after I got a job as a driver three years ago. But now, it seems I will not be able to continue my job because of the new law,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
“Can you imagine a person paying Tk10,000 fine when his income is only Tk16,000? This is inhuman,” he exclaimed.
Local bus driver Belayet Mollah said the authorities concerned should have prepared Dhaka roads in accordance with the new law.
“The main roads of the city are mostly connected with several feeder roads that often cause accidents, sometimes through no fault of the drivers. Accidents happen due to the carelessness of the pedestrians too,” he added.
Mosharraf Hossain, a private job holder who was seen walking across the road in Banglamotor on Friday morning, despite there being a foot overbridge nearby, confessed that he knew what he did was illegal, but did it anyways as there was light traffic on the road.
“If the law is properly implemented, maybe everyone will follow it,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
However, when asked if he was aware of the punishment for jaywalking under the new law, said he did not know anything about it.
Mosharraf, along with several other pedestrians and commuters, said the government should run a campaign in order to raise awareness about the new law.