The authorities will finally start investigating the purchase of “faulty” buses and trucks from Indian manufacturers for the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation.
The BRTC has formed a probe committee last month, almost three months after the Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader directed the officials concerned to launch an investigation.
“We will start the investigation very soon and complete it within the shortest possible time,” BRTC Chairman Ehsan-E-Elahi told The Daily Star on Sunday.
Buet has yet to send the name of its representative in the probe committee, he said. “We will start investigating within one week after getting the name.”
Duration of the probe would be fixed once the committee members held their first meeting, he added.
The government brought 600 buses and 500 trucks from different Indian makers with Tk 559 crore in multiple phases last year. The funds were lent by the Indian government. The vehicles have already arrived in Bangladesh. Farid Uddin Ahmed was the chairman of BRTC at that time.
After the vehicles arrived, especially the buses, it was reported in the media that some of the non-AC buses had leaky roofs and several double-decker ones were not what their spec sheets mentioned.
On September 16, Quader at a programme at the BRTC head office said, “There must have been experts among those involved in bringing the buses [from India]. They [Indian companies] supplied us vehicles full of defects.
“I am directing the [BRTC] chairman to launch a proper investigation to find out whether anyone [from our officials] accepted the defects willingly or they had been tricked.”
Quader, also general secretary of the Awami League, had also mentioned that those who supplied the vehicles had taken the responsibility and promised to fix the issues.
In last October, the Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) directed the BRTC to launch the investigation and asked BRTC chairman to form the probe committee with representatives from different bodies, officials said.
Led by Ehsan-E-Elahi, the committee will have representatives from the RTHD, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and mechanical engineering department of Buet.
Besides, the BRTC director (administration and operation), who was the project director of purchasing the 500 trucks; director (technical), who was the project director of purchasing the 600 buses; deputy general manager (maintenance) and general manager (technical) were also included in the committee.
The general manager (technical) will be the member secretary of the committee.
The probe committee does not include anyone from the RTHD.
The committee will check whether the buses and trucks delivered are the ones mentioned in the contracts and will provide its opinion, BRTC chairman said.
However, the inclusion of BRTC officials, who were involved in the purchase, in the committee has raised eyebrows.
Transport expert Prof Shamsul Hoque said those officials should not be in the probe committee.
“It will raise questions about the probe,” he said.
Asked, BRTC Chairman Ehsan said, “We will check the technical specification of the vehicles in person. So, their inclusion in the committee will not affect the investigation.”
The vehicles include 300 double-decker buses (Tk 90 lakh each), 100 non-AC buses (Tk 49 lakh each), 100 AC city buses (Tk 67 lakh each), 100 AC intercity buses (Tk 72 lakh each), 350 (16.2 tonne) trucks (Tk 20 lakh each) and 150 (10.2-tonne) trucks (Tk 21 lakh each). The prices include VAT.
Indian makers Ashok Leyland supplied the double-decker buses, AC city buses, AC intercity buses while Tata Motors supplied the non-AC buses and 10.2-tonne trucks. VE Commercial Vehicle supplied the 16.2-tonne trucks.