Over 55,000 vehicles, including 3,740 belonging to different ministries and government agencies, have not had their fitness certificates renewed for more than a decade in breach of rules, official data showed.
As per the law, it is mandatory for a vehicle to go through fitness check-up every year and have its fitness certificate renewed to ply the roads legally.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) on March 29 published two lists of “fitness defaulters” on its website -- one of government vehicles and the other of non-government ones.
The authority asked the owners to renew the fitness certificates by April 30. Otherwise, they would be declared “write-offs”, meaning their registration will be cancelled, said a BRTA official.
However, two BRTA officials think many of these vehicles might not be running on roads now. The state agency doesn't have any data on the vehicles that are no longer in use.
The list of the government vehicles started with the status of the one belonging to the mayor of Dhaka City Corporation (Dhaka Metro-AU-11-0195). Its fitness certificate expired in July 2007.
As the city corporation was split into two in 2011, Dhaka South and Dhaka North, it's not clear which of the two city corporations now owns the vehicle or if it is operational at all.
The city corporation's vehicle was followed by those belonging to government organisations including ministries, police and banks and different projects. Police own the highest number of vehicles on the list.
The BRTA data show a total of 52,686 vehicles owned by individuals, non-government educational institutions and commercial organisations have their fitness certificates expired.
Talking to The Daily Star last week, Mahbub-E-Rabbani, director (road safety) of BRTA, said as per the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983, it is mandatory to receive fitness certificate every year from the authority.
Operating vehicles without fitness certificate is punishable offence and one may face jail and fine for this violation, said Rabbani, also the BRTA spokesperson.
“BRTA will take action against those vehicles through conducting mobile court operations,” he said, adding that may be, many of these vehicles no longer ply the streets.
For violating section 47 of the ordinance, which deals with fitness clearance, a person may face, for the first offence, maximum three months' imprisonment, or up to Tk 2,000 fine, or both. And for any subsequent offence, the person may face up to six months in jail, or up to Tk 5,000 fine, or both.
MOVE SINCE 2016
In October 2016, BRTA in a departmental circular mentioned that fitness certificates of a significant number of vehicles were not renewed in the last 10 years in violation of the ordinance.
The authority asked all its circle offices across the country to submit the list of “permanently unfit motor vehicles” to the head office by October 30, sources said.
On August 29 last year, BRTA issued a notice, which was published in different newspapers, saying that under section 47 of the ordinance, it is mandatory to receive fitness certificate every year from BRTA.
As per the BRTA database, a significant number of vehicles did not have their fitness certificates renewed in the past 10 years, meaning those vehicles were operating without fitness certificate or became unusable, the notice said.
Against this backdrop, BRTA urged the owners to renew fitness certificates of their vehicles and inform it about their permanently damaged or already unusable vehicles, it said.
Otherwise, BRTA will cancel the registration of those motor vehicles after December 31, 2017, considering the vehicles either permanently damaged or already unusable, the notice read.
BTRA Director (Engineering) Nurul Islam said after the notice, many owners got the fitness certificates renewed.
“Now, we have issued notice giving one-month time to those who did not renew their fitness certificate in last 10 years. Then we will declare those write-offs,” he said on Tuesday.
A “public interest notice” will be circulated through TV scrolls for five days, according to a BRTA document.
Kazi Md Shifun Newaz, assistant professor at Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Buet, told this correspondent that BRTA should have taken this move (declaring vehicles write-offs) much earlier.
“Operation of a vehicle without fitness clearance is very risky because it may cause fatal road accidents besides traffic jam,” he said.
The expert said an updated database of vehicles is also very important for better planning.
LIMITATION IN ORDINANCE
BTRA Director Nurul said nothing is mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Ordinance about the higher limit of the lifespan of a motor vehicle, creating problem for BRTA to declare a vehicle “write-off”.
“We have nothing to do if someone can maintain his or her vehicles even after 20 years and those remain eligible to be operated in the street.”
BRTA had more than 32 lakh motor vehicles registered since 1971, he mentioned.
Some 114,271 vehicles were registered in the first 10 months of last year, while the number was 110,520 in 2016, according to BRTA.
“It is a fact that some vehicles do not exist at all. But BRTA has no statistics about the number of such vehicles, because there is no rule for reporting [by the vehicle owner] about such [unusable] vehicles,” Nurul said.
BRTA can cancel registration of a vehicle if found unusable, he added.