Obaidul Quader took charge of Communication Ministry, now Road Transport and Bridges Ministry, on December 5, 2011 and at a programme at BRTA headquarters on December 27 that year, ordered to put a stop to activities of “brokers” in the organisation.
Quader has been at the helm of the ministry for over seven years and yesterday he gave the same directives at the same place.
“BRTA has a weakness -- presence of brokers in and outside its offices. How can they [brokers] work if they have no connection with the insiders? This influence of brokers must be stopped,” Quader said.
The minister was speaking at a views-exchange meeting with officials of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) at its headquarters in the capital. BRTA Chairman Moshiar Rahman and other top officials were present at the meeting.
A section of unscrupulous BRTA officials and staff maintain an unholy nexus with the brokers and make people suffer when trying to obtain driving licences and vehicle registrations.
Quader, on several occasions, made surprise visits to BRTA offices and caught brokers red-handed. That, however, has not managed to stop brokers over the years. Mobile courts of BRTA sentenced five brokers to different jail terms on Tuesday.
Yesterday, Quader said, “I'm telling all the officials present here that I don't want to see brokers when visiting BRTA offices.”
He said these middlemen are tarnishing the image of BRTA.
“I'm not taking any commission. Why will I take the blame then?” he said, adding, “If any paper publishes news on corruption in BRTA, I, as a minister, can't avoid responsibility, even though I'm not a part of it.”
“Those officials who are tainting BRTA's image better change their ways. Otherwise, legal actions would be taken,” the minister warned.
Quader once again vowed to make BRTA corruption-free yesterday, over seven years after he said that the organisation had become “synonymous to corruption”.
After a surprise visit to BRTA's Mirpur office on July 10, 2012, Quader told some officials, “You have turned the BRTA office into a corrupted place by looting people's money.”
“I have resolved 45 percent of irregularities from here, but the remaining discrepancies still grip the sector. A nexus of brokers, security officers and some BRTA officials are involved in the irregularities,” Quader had said.
Yesterday, the minister said, “I have conducted drives on many occasions. As a result, the situation [at BRTA offices, including in Mirpur] has improved to a large extent.”
“However, there are still problems,” he added.
“We want to fulfill our electoral pledge.
We want to work with transparency and won't allow any irregularities or corruption. I hope officials present here would be more aware of their responsibilities,” he said.
“I want a corruption-free BRTA. I don't want people to be harassed when they come to BRTA offices,” Quader said.
“There was time when fitness papers of a vehicle could be collected even without bringing the vehicle. The scenario has changed a little at present, but I want to put a stop to such practice completely,” the minister said.
MASUD AGAIN IN DISCUSSION
At one stage of his speech, Quader mentioned Masud Alam, a deputy director of BRTA who led its Mirpur office.
When Masud went near the minister, Quader said, “If I transfer Masud, he returns to [Mirpur] office. He has some magical power… Is there no alternative to him?”
On several occasions, Quader warned Masud for his alleged negligence in duty and irregularities. On one occasion, Quader, in presence of the media, asked him to mend his ways.
The minister in May 2014 ordered to transfer Masud, then an assistant director, from Mirpur office since he had been working in the same office for more than three years.