Over the last seven years, the number of registered vehicles has risen from 18.5 lakh (in 2013) to 42 lakh (in 2019), but Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) only managed to recruit a paltry 19 people, including one vehicle inspector. So, in 2019, a mere 195 people (including 109 inspectors and 86 mechanical assistants) are responsible for checking the mechanical fitness of all registered vehicles. Anyone can see that it is humanly impossible for these few people to physically check so many vehicles. It would require this small team to check approximately 11,500 cars a day, provided they worked 365 days a year.
Hence, we are forced to ask the question, why has this impossible, herculean task been left to so few? It is an ideal situation to breed corruption and the sad part of this whole scenario is that it has precipitated the severe breakdown in safety in the roads, since unscrupulous owners can, and do, manage to get papers for unfit vehicles. Reportedly, some 200 vehicles hit the roads on a daily basis and that explains the more than doubling of the registered vehicle number in six years. BRTA officials agree that at least 1,000 inspectors are needed to complete the job properly.
Obviously, the wrongs of so many years cannot be fixed in a day or a year. Yet, for reasons unknown, authorities have not prioritised the mandatory recruiting of technical personnel to address this dire situation for so many years. There is no lack of funds, since BRTA earns a huge sum for registering vehicles (which has increased exponentially) every year. Rather, it is the lack of political will that is to blame. It is now up to policymakers to expedite the recruitment of an adequate number of vehicle inspectors, so that BRTA can properly scrutinise automobiles and heavier transports before issuing and renewing driving licenses, fitness of vehicles, and route permits. The other change that must be initiated, is the mechanisation of the fitness-checking process because, transport experts tell us that there are about 59 elements that require checking in each vehicle. A mechanised system would significantly increase the efficiency of these inspections. Unless BRTA is equipped with more Vehicle Inspection Centres (currently there is only one in Mirpur), merely appointing more personnel will not have the desired effect and unfit vehicles and untrained drivers will keep getting the papers fixed without proper scrutiny.