Fuel price cut won't benefit passengers

No plan to reduce transport fare

Bus operators are reluctant to reduce fares despite a cut in fuel prices.

In the past, whenever the government increased fuel prices, bus operators launched bids to hike fares, and even bargained with the government to press home their demand.

However, bus owners are now making excuses for not reducing fares and preparing to bargain with the government regarding this.

A fare re-fixing committee comprising government officials, transport owners, workers and other stakeholders would make a decision about whether to reduce the fare or not.

The price of diesel and kerosene has been reduced to Tk 65 from Tk 68 a litre, octane to Tk 89 from Tk 99 and petrol to Tk 86 from Tk 96.

Almost all the buses on long-haul routes are run by diesel, while most of the buses in Dhaka and Chittagong metropolises are run by CNG, said transport operators.

Passenger fare has been increased nine times since 1990 due to fuel price hike, according to officials of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA).

The last time the fares of inter-district and long-haul buses were increased was in 2013 following a fuel price hike. In Dhaka and Chittagong metropolises, the fare was hiked in September last year.

Talking to The Daily Star, several passengers demanded that the fare be reduced.

“Previously, we noticed that bus operators started charging high even before the government revised fare following fuel price hike. Therefore, the owners must reduce the fare now,” said Ragib Hasan, a private service holder, who frequently travels from Dhaka to the northern districts.

Bangladesh Passengers' Welfare Association Secretary General Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury said, “Reduction of fare is the right of passengers because the prices of fuel have been brought down. But bus owners do not do so, rather they show arbitrary attitudes.”

However, energy ministry officials expressed hope that transport fares would be reduced soon.

Even, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on April 7 at a programme in the capital said transport fare would be reduced by 1 paisa per kilometre if the government brought down fuel prices by Tk 1 per litre.

But bus owners are now giving different excuses and saying that the cost for vehicle maintenance, wages of workers, tolls of bridges and prices of motor parts have increased in the last couple of years.

“All these factors have contributed to an increase in the operating costs of buses. In such a situation, we will have to incur loss if fares are reduced,” Romesh Chandra Ghosh, managing director of Shyamoli Paribahan, told The Daily Star.

“We will definitely scale down the fare if the government reduces fuel cost by Tk 10 per litre,” said Abul Kalam, president of bus owners' association at the capital's Sayedabad Bus Terminal.

Contacted, Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary MAN Siddique yesterday said a verbal directive had already been issued to the BRTA to convene a meeting of the fare re-fixing committee to readjust passenger fare.

BRTA Director (engineering) Nurul Islam said, “We have already started working on this. We hope to prepare a draft of a revised fare chart within the next two or three days.”

Currently, a passenger has to pay Tk 1.45 for travelling per kilometre on inter-district routes, while Tk 1.70 (bus) and Tk 1.60 (minibus) for travelling per kilometre in Dhaka and Chittagong. 


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