July 10, 2016

Road Safety Bill Aims at Privatisation of Transport Sector

The All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation has issued the following statement on June 29.

THE Draft Road Transport and Safety Bill 2015 aims to privatise the Core Motor Transport Sector and to hand over the entire sector to corporates. It is surprising to note that some MPs had written asking for the placing of the Bill in parliament in the forthcoming monsoon session. The Bill aims at replacement the existing Motor Vehicle Act rendering lakhs of workers jobless in the name of road safety. The Bill is anti-people and anti-worker. The protections given to STUs is withdrawn and it will affect private buses, mini-buses, auto rikshaws, taxies, goods transport vehicles, driving schools, motor vehicle department, motor workshops, spare parts shops and all road transport workers. The Bill erodes and encroaches upon the powers of state governments.

Without taking into account the reasons for accidents, the drivers are held responsible for accidents. Heavy fines and penalties are proposed in the Bill. It was stated by Shashi Tharoor, MP that he was dismayed at how poorly we fare on road safety by global standards and how China has taken swift action to bring down accident deaths and crashes. India has not made any sincere efforts for development and increase of road length whereas China spent huge amount for infrastructural development.

In China almost all the major roads have six to eight lanes. Segregation of roads according to speed and type of vehicles is there in China. Major steps are taken to minimise accidents and fatalities. Further, the road traffic awareness among the public in China is high. These two aspects contribute a lot in minimising accidents and fatalities. In India, these two vital aspects are grossly neglected and are not in existence. The AIRTWF demands the government to focus on these two aspects immediately.

Our road condition is very poor and the vehicle population has increased in geometric proportions. The drivers are compelled to drive heavy vehicles on long journey without rest and to drive overnight. Regarding safety and protection of drivers, nothing is done by the union government. The Road Tax and Cess collected is not utilised for development of roads. Without addressing the basic needs of road transport workers, the union government is taking steps to implement the proposed Bill which violates constitutional provisions and federal set up. The road transport workers oppose these black laws that hamper their right to live.