The report submitted by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) to the High Court (HC) recently states that there are some 458,000 unfit vehicles on the road nationwide. Of them, 168,000 are on Dhaka roads. The law states that all vehicles (with the exception of motorcycles) must have fitness checks and that fitness certificates need to be renewed annually. We know from dozens of reports by various agencies that unfit vehicles are one of the key reasons for accidents on roads, and yet here we are being told by BRTA that there are lakhs of unfit vehicles plying our roads with apparent impunity.
We wonder, why must the attention of the HC be drawn to force the BRTA to come up with these numbers in the first place? Precisely why the BRTA and other agencies, including the law enforcing ones, have failed to take action against these vehicles year after year remains a mystery. This is a subject that we are forced to revisit in our editorials and news of how unfit vehicles and drivers without valid licences continue to cause accidents that take thousands of lives every year.
As the HC has observed, there is obviously a nexus of corrupt officials involved in the issuance of false driving licences and the benefits of such illicit transactions run into millions of taka that line the pockets of corrupt individuals. It will take more than a call to look inwards into our collective conscience and rise above greed to stop this nefarious trade in licences. Rather, the authorities need to take cognisance of newspaper reports and bring those involved in the illegal practice to face the full force of the law, so that the practice that allows for untrained drivers to drive unfit vehicles and kill and maim people on our roads stops.