The government has set July 1 to start registration of ride-sharing service providers, 17 months after the formulation of the guidelines.
However, a mandatory provision for getting the licence, the ability to dial from the apps 999, national emergency helpline, was made optional as the police were not ready to deliver the service.
At first, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) will issue licence to service providers and later to the drivers and riders, BRTA officials said. All the process will be completed online, they said.
“We have taken all out preparation to issue licences within July,” Lokman Hossain Mollah, director (engineering) of the BRTA, told The Daily Star on June 17.
App-based ride-hailing services were launched in Dhaka in May 2015, and more than two dozen service providers are now operating in the city. The cabinet in January last year approved “Ride-Sharing Service Guideline 2017” with effect from March 8 the same year.
With ride-hailing services growing rapidly in Dhaka, user complaints are also on the rise. But errant operators, drivers, and riders cannot be held accountable because the companies were not registered with the BRTA.
The BRTA said it could not issue licence to any of the 16 companies that sought registration as none were able to fulfil all its conditions.
The companies had told the authorities that fulfilling some of the passenger-safety related conditions would take time as the process involved other stakeholders.
Against this backdrop, Road Transport and Highway Division held a meeting on June 10 with the Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader in the chair. BRTA Chairman Moshiar Rahman at the meeting said the licencing process was being delayed as the issue related to police helpdesk line, 999, had not been settled.
As per the guideline, the apps must have facilities so that both passengers and drivers can dial 999 in case of emergency.
The BRTA was asked to start issuing licences to service providers from July 1, making the dial 999 facility optional.
A BRTA official told this correspondent that even though the service providers were almost ready to provide the dial 999 service, the police were not.
“So, use of 999 was made optional until the police are ready to provide the service,” he said.
Contacted, Mostafizur Rahman, an additional superintendent of police, who is working on the issue at the Police Headquarters, said it might take another two months to complete work at their end.
Police is working with ride-hailing service providers to develop the integrated system so that police could respond immediately after a passenger or rider seeks help, he told The Daily Star on June 19.
The ministry had also directed the BRTA to fix highest fare according to the distance travelled.
BRTA Director Lokman said as per the guideline, cars cannot charge more than the fare fixed under the Taxicab Service Guidelines 2010.
At present, the government-fixed fare for taxis is Tk 85 for the first two kilometres and Tk 34 for each subsequent km. Passengers have to pay waiting charge of Tk 8.50 for every two minutes and Tk 20 extra for booking a taxi over the phone.
If anyone charges extra from passengers, they would take action, including cancellation of licence of the company, he added.