Ride-Sharing Services: BRTA now wants rules relaxed | Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:50 AM, January 18, 2019

Ride-Sharing Services: BRTA now wants rules relaxed

Writes to ministry to give companies certain time to fulfil conditions

None of the 14 ride-sharing companies that sought BRTA registration have been able to fulfill the required conditions, although a guideline mentioning the conditions was put in force 10 months ago.

The companies have told the authorities that fulfilling some of the passenger safety related conditions would take time as the process involved other stakeholders, officials said.

Since they are not registered, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority has not been able to hold the companies, drivers, and riders accountable. 

Out of more than 24 ride-sharing companies operating in the country, 14 have applied for registration after the guideline came into force in March last year.  

Against this backdrop, the BRTA last week proposed the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry let it register the companies by giving them a deadline for fulfilling the conditions, BRTA spokesperson Mahbub-E-Rabbani said.

Mahbub added that fulfilling some of the conditions may take time as several authorities, including the police and Election Commission, are involved in the process.

"We wrote to the ministry to register those companies to make them accountable,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Another BRTA official said the move was taken as users' complaints against the companies by are piling up. Besides, the government is being deprived of a considerable source of revenue as long as the companied remain unregistered.

However, Kazi Saifun Newaz, assistant professor at the Accident Research Institute of Buet, said the companies should not be given any registration if they do not ensure passenger safety.

He added that the problems in the registration process should be solved before issuing registrations, “because, it is hard to believe that they will fulfill the conditions within in a specific time if they are given registration.”

Mobile app-based ride-hailing services were launched in Dhaka in May 2015. The cabinet on January 15 last year approved the Ride-sharing Service Guidelines.

A ministry official told The Daily Star that several companies wrote to the ministry demanding amendment to the guidelines while others sought more time.

The ministry then forwarded the companies' letters to the BRTA and asked it make specific recommendations on the issue, the official said wishing anonymity.

In its January 9 letter to the ministry, the BRTA said its officials visited 10 of the 14 companies that had applied for registration.

The letter also mentioned the opinions of the registration seeking companies.

One of the safety-related conditions requires the companies to include an SOS (Save Our Souls) button in the apps to automatically send information about the driver or passenger's GPS location to 999, the national emergency helpline.

Service providing companies said national emergency helpline authorities and control room of Dhaka Metropolitan Police need to be involved to fulfill this requirement.

As a result, it is not possible for them to specifically say how long it would take for the integration of ride sharing app and the national emergency helpline service, they added.

The BRTA said since it would not be possible for a ride-sharing company to fulfill the condition without involving police, the companies can be issued registrations after they commit to fulfilling it within a deadline.

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