Experts and officials of ridesharing companies yesterday called upon the government to revise some sections of “Ridesharing Service Guideline 2017” for expansion of the sector.
They urged the government to change its decision of banning vehicles registered outside Dhaka to operate in the capital under ridesharing companies.
The speakers were addressing a roundtable on “Ridesharing Service Guideline 2017: Application, Limitations and Way Out” at CA Bhaban in Dhaka's Karwan Bazar. Bangla daily Prothom Alo organised the discussion in association with Pathao, Shohoz and Uber.
Hussain M Elius, chief executive officer of Pathao, said they found the guideline positive. However, some sections can have adverse impact on the sector, he said.
He said new vehicles are comparatively safer and cost effective, but as per the guideline, no vehicle can be enlisted with any ridesharing company before one year of registration.
About government decision that vehicles registered outside Dhaka cannot operate in the capital, he said the decision will badly affect supply.
Road Transport and Bridges Ministry on January 27 took the decision and BRTA on February 19 gave four directives to 16 ridesharing companies, which sought registration, and asked them to give compliance letter within a week, said two BRTA officials.
Elius said many people are coming to Dhaka regularly and they usually come along with their vehicles, so ridesharing service can be useful to them. He also said such decision will not help reduce vehicles in Dhaka.
Maliha M Quadir, founder and managing director of Shohoz, said as per guideline, a vehicle owner will be allowed to provide service under one company. Drivers will be affected by this and their income will reduce, she said.
About government plan of setting highest ceiling for the number of vehicles to be enlisted with any ride-hailing company, Zulquar Quazi, country lead of Uber Bangladesh, said such quota system would not solve traffic congestion.
Because, very few new vehicles are added to ridesharing services, he said, mentioning that the number of car registration fell in 2018 compared to 2017.
The ministry, following its January 27 meeting, directed BRTA to propose the highest ceiling.
Lokman Hossain Mollah, director (engineering) of BRTA, said ridesharing is a new concept in Bangladesh and they have prepared the guideline without any baseline. “So, there may be some errors.”
About the one-year registration time, he said they incorporated the section fearing that huge number of vehicles will hit the street if new vehicles are allowed.
Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, said though ridesharing service was launched through difficulties, it has reached current position due to government's policy support.
“I will talk to the BRTA and ministry and hope your demands would be addressed,” he said.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, former adviser to a caretaker government, said “one vehicle, one app” proposal should be revised because the logic against it is quite clear. Also, the issue of one-year limitation can be considered for review.
Zillur, convener of Safe Road and Transport Alliance, said although increase of motorcycles is good, safety concerns need to be addressed.
Officials of automobile companies, vehicle owners, users, government and police officials also spoke in the programme, moderated by Prothom Alo Associate Editor Abdul Quayum.