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Truck owners, workers go on strike in Dhaka

08 Oct,2018

Truck owners and workers went on strike in Dhaka yesterday to press their seven-point charter of demands, including amendments to the Road Transport Act, 2018. No trucks or covered vans have left or entered Dhaka since yesterday morning. Meanwhile, over 100 transport workers took to the streets at Teen Rastar Mor in Bosila in the city’s Mohammadpur area since morning, expressing solidarity with the truckers.

Abdul Motaleb, the general secretary of the Bangladesh Truck, Covered Van Transport Agency Owners’ Association, has said trucks and covered vans have stopped plying from 6am yesterday. He says a provision in the Act states that if an investigation proves that death in a road accident is deliberate, it will be regarded as a punishable offence under Section 302 of the Penal Code. “Truck drivers do not kill anyone deliberately,” he added.

“If the government doesn’t take any initiative to amend the law, we’ll go for an indefinite strike,” he warned.

Their demands include amending the Road Transport Act, 2018, not taking the cases under Section 302 for road accidents, cancelling the penalty of Tk. 5 lakh and filing a lawsuit in a bail-eligible section, releasing owners and workers, including Hazarat Ali, owner of Tangail District Truck Owners’ Association. Other demands are: stopping police harassment, fixing a fixed spot for checking car papers, constructing truck terminals or stands with sufficient facilities, giving appropriate compensation to cancel the model of the vehicle, granting verified licences to heavy vehicle drivers on easy terms, and giving opportunities to run heavy vehicles with light or medium licences.

Striking workers obstructed all kinds of vehicular movement in the capital. Many people were seen waiting at Mohammadpur, Gabtoli and Farmgate bus stand since morning because of the lack of transport.

Earlier, on Saturday, the owners’ association held a protest rally to amend the new law. Addressing another rally in the city, leaders of transport owners and workers threatened to launch a more intensive movement unless the government changes the Road Transport Act, 2018, including making all the offences bailable.

On September 19, Parliament passed the much-anticipated Road Transport Act, 2018, amid criticism over lenient punishment for deaths caused by reckless driving.

Under the new law, if anyone causes an accident by reckless and negligent driving, and kills or injures someone seriously, he will face a maximum five-year term of imprisonment or a fine of Tk. 5 lakh or both.

However, if it is found that a driver has deliberately killed anyone or not averted a killing in a road accident, the incident will fall under either Section 302 (murder) or 304 (culpable homicide) of the Penal Code, the law minister had earlier said, explaining the Act.

According to workers’ leaders, at least 32,000 trucks transport goods, including food and export and import products, across the country every day.

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