The bus of Suprobhat Paribahan, which ran over and killed a university student in the capital's Bashundhara Residential Area on Tuesday, faced legal actions 27 times and plied Pragati Sarani road for long without the authorities' permission.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia disclosed this at a programme organised by the traffic police (east division) at Mohanagar Natya Mancha in the city's Gulistan area yesterday.
“The bus had permission to ply Dhaka-Brahmanbaria road. Then how did it run in Dhaka city? The second thing is the bus faced legal actions 27 times …” the commissioner said.
There have been widespread allegations that despite having no fitness certificates and route permits, a large number of buses are running on the city streets by bribing a section of traffic sergeants.
A portion of the bribe, given by bus owners on a monthly basis, goes to a section of police high-ups and some political leaders, several police officials, who had worked in the traffic division in the past, told this newspaper.
Asaduzzaman said police, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), and other organisations related to traffic management system have failed to bring discipline to the roads and cannot shrug off responsibility.
“There is no scope for denying that we have failed to bring discipline to the transport sector,” he said.
Referring to the death of Abrar Ahmed Chowdhury, a student of Bangladesh University of Professionals, on Tuesday, the DMP commissioner pointed out that the accident took place on zebra crossing, a safe zone for pedestrians.
“When an accident takes place in a safe zone, it is not possible to give answers … So time has come to bring discipline to the transport sector,” he noted.
Blaming the contract-basis appointment of drivers for most of the accidents, the DMP commissioner said the deaths of Abrar and two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment School last year are in no way acceptable.
When a driver is appointed on a contract basis, he often stops his vehicle in the middle of the road to take passengers, blocking the path of other vehicles, he said.
“This tendency of earning more is one of the main reasons for road accidents,” he mentioned.
Sirajul Islam, the driver of the Suprobhat Paribahan bus that killed Abrar in Bashundhara area on Tuesday, was driving recklessly to flee after hitting another pedestrian in Shahjadpur area. Sirajul is now on a seven-day remand.
Abrar's death sparked a firestorm of protest among the students. The situation calmed down after the authorities suspended operation of all buses belonging to Suprobhat and Jabal-e-Noor, and assured students of visible steps for safe road by a week.
Speaking at yesterday's programme for raising awareness about traffic rules, the commissioner asked the members of the DMP to detain the pedestrians who jaywalk instead of using footbridges or zebra crossings.
“Detain them and present them before the media to show that they are risking their lives by not using footbridges.”
Urging all to follow the traffic rules, he said the drive against unfit vehicles and random parking will continue.
At the programme, Dhaka Road Transport Owners' Association General Secretary Khondaker Enayet Ullah admitted that the contract-basis appointment of drivers is the main cause of road accidents in the capital.
He further said they would introduce ticket system for city buses from next month to stop such contract-basis appointment of drivers.
Enayet hoped the number of road accidents would come down once the system is put in place.
Meanwhile, the BRTA formed a five-member probe committee, led by its Director Sirajul Islam, to scrutinise the papers of the two transport companies -- Suprobhat and Jabal-e-Noor.
The committee has been asked to submit its report by March 27, BRTA Deputy Director Shafiquzzaman Bhuiyan told this newspaper.