When the roads and highways are strewn with rundown and ramshackle vehicles, the syndicates are proving to be serious impediments to the introduction of new and comfortable vehicles in the private sector. This was revealed in a front page report in a leading Bangla daily yesterday.
The statistics regarding the state of vehicles plying all over the country are mind-boggling. Nearly 30 percent of all the buses and mini buses are more than 20 years old, and around 60 percent are more than 10 years old. Given the lack of maintenance of these vehicles, it is not surprising that the number of road accidents in Bangladesh is so high.
If that is the situation, we wonder why the owners' syndicate should continue to monopolise the transport sector by making the job of new investors in this sector difficult. The idea of mandatory membership of the owners' association before a route permit can be issued is absurd and so is the exorbitant contribution demanded from new intending members by the owners' association. This practice goes against the ethics of free trade and certainly falls in the category of monopolistic and restrictive trade practices.
One of the reasons why this sector has remained static in terms of quality is this very brazen control of the sector by a few owners' associations. A business sector, particularly one that has to do with providing service to the public, can only improve with fair competition. And it is for the government to provide a level playing field so that the public are not held hostage to a particular group. That, unfortunately, seems to be the case with the transport sector.