A report published in this daily on Monday reveals that despite the government taking various steps and investing crores to improve the services provided by Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), private transport owners and workers have systematically managed to obstruct many of its initiatives. The latest BRTC initiative to have hit a roadblock is a move to launch new buses, namely double-deckers, on different inter-district routes which would have provided affordable alternatives for the commuters.
While BRTC has the jurisdiction to launch buses across the country, a deal signed in 2003 between the then communications minister and Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation states that BRTC would not run double-decker buses on inter-district routes. That and a few other directives are now being used against the latest initiative by the state-run corporation. Local owners and workers have alleged that BRTC is violating the deal by not following it properly. However, the BRTC chairman wrote to the road transport and bridges ministry on December last year, requesting the minister's intervention to resolve the crisis. He also informed that they had suggested omitting sections of the directives that are in contravention of the BRTC Ordinance and the BRTC Act. The Act says that the corporation can operate vehicles for transporting passengers and goods on any routes of the country. Though discussions are underway as regards the changes being sought, the prospect of an immediate solution seems far-fetched.
The regrettable aspect is, the government last year purchased 600 buses and 500 trucks worth around Tk 732 crore. Many of these buses were not allowed to operate on the designated routes following protests by the transport owners and workers. BRTC faced backlash from them for trying to run both single and double-decker buses on various routes on multiple occasions. This comes as a shock as there is a huge public demand for such services due to the economically viable rates that the state charges. It is also clear that there is a lack of affordable public transportation within the city as well as between cities. It makes no sense, therefore, to allow commuters to suffer when there is a solution that is deliberately being barred from taking effect. We urge the government to intervene in the issue and resolve the impasse for the greater benefit of the public.