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Road Safety Bill, 2014: Transport workers cry foul

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 Feb 2015 12:00 AM GMT

'Bill will be grossly out of sync in the prevailing road and other insfrastructure in Assam as well as elsewhere in the country'

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, February 18: The Assam State Committee of the All India Road Transport Workers' Federation (AIRTWF) opposed the Centre's move to replace the

Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 with the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, which, it said, would be grossly out of sync in the prevailing road and other insfrastructure in Assam as well as elsewhere in the country.

In a statement issued to the press today, the Assam unit of the AIRTWF said: "The new Bill has some clauses that are prevalent in developed countries like the US, the UK and Russia that have highly developed road and other transportation insfrastructure. The clauses will be grossly out of sync in the prevailing road condition in Assam and elsewhere in the country. Such clauses will be detrimental to our country as they are aimed at imposing heavy pelties on drivers for every accident."

The Federation said: "The Bill has clauses that favour seven-year imprisonment and fines amounting to Rs 10,000 to Rs 3 lakh for an accident. In a country where footbridges are almost absent and pedestrians still cross roads risking their lives, such pelties are too heavy to bear for drivers. The clauses will have their detrimental effects on the drivers and their families. If this Bill is passed to make a law, a large number of poor families will get broke and more and more drivers will be seen behind bars."

The Federation further said: "Government-sponsored training for drivers and other transport workers are very rare in India. Though there a few awareness programmes by NGOs, they aren't enough to make drivers well aware of all road safety norms. In such a backdrop, how come the government impose such harsher clauses in the new Bill?"

The Federation, however, said: "We have no objection if the government adopts stricter rules in issuing licenses to drivers so as to ensure that only genuinely trained persons get licence for driving. The government is aware of practices like people getting driving licences through brokers."

According to the Federation, the Government of India wants to form the Motor Vehicle Regulation and Road Safety Authority of India (MVR), the tiol Road Transport and Multi-Model Cooperation Authority (NRT) and the Highway Traffic Regulation and Protection Force (HTRPF). "If these three bodies are formed, the vehicle and road taxes being collected by the state governments on the country will go to the Centre," the Federation said, and added that it would hit the state exchequer hard.

The Federation said: "The government has no provision to compensate the next of kin of drivers when they are kidpped on roads and killed by miscreants and militants."

The Federation announced that it would call a convention on February 21 at Lakhiram Baruah Sadan in Guwahati to chalk out their strategy and raise protest against the move taken up by the Centre. Trade unions, motor transport workers' unions, vehicle owners' associations and others will take part at the meeting. The Federation further said that it called an all-India strike on April 30 in protest against the Bill.

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