BRTC dancing to the tune of Shariatpur bus owners

Only 6 of its buses allowed to ply Dhaka-Shariatpur via Padma Bridge, can’t stop in district town

We don't want any mafia, anarchy or syndicate in the transport sector... We want a people-friendly public transport system.

Bus owners of Shariatpur have imposed conditions on the movement of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) buses on Dhaka-Shariatpur route via Padma Bridge, drawing flak from locals and netizens.

As per the conditions, BRTC buses cannot carry passengers to the district town, and the organisation can run a maximum of six buses on the route.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the regional transport committee, chaired by Shariatpur Deputy Commissioner (DC) Md Parvez Hasan, at his office on Monday. Senior BRTC officials and leaders of bus owners' groups were present.

Shahidul Islam Sajib, a lawyer of Shariatpur district court, said, "It's my right to get government services. Who is the DC to compromise on that right? Why can't I board BRTC buses from the district town?"

The syndicate of bus owners and workers -- which blocked BRTC buses in Shariatpur on Sunday, claiming that BRTC did not coordinate with it -- does not have route permits to ply the route, Mahmudul Hasan, reporter of a national daily, posted on his Facebook.

"Can you imagine how big of a mafia they are? We don't want any mafia, anarchy or syndicate in the transport sector... We want a people-friendly public  transport system," he said.

Ahsan Ullah Ismaily, executive member of Shujan's Shariatpur unit, said it is shameful that BRTC buses move in Shariatpur on conditions, when people at the district town cannot get adequate services.

After the announcement of Padma Bridge's opening, transport owners in Shariatpur prepared at least 250 new buses. On June 26, some 28 buses of three companies -- Shariatpur Super Service, owned by Shariatpur Inter-district Bus and Minibus Owners' Association, Shariatpur Padma Travels and Shariatpur Transport -- started operating on Dhaka-Shariatpur route.

BRTC also started operating six of its buses on the route that day. But employees of the bus owners' association stopped the vehicles at the municipal bus terminal and forced the passengers to get off. And so, BRTC buses have not been seen on the road for two days.

Among the three private-bus companies, buses of Shariatpur Super Service do not have route permits to ply the road.

Contacted, BRTC General Manager (ICWS) Major Moktaruzzaman said, "Six buses started plying Dhaka-Shariatpur route, after Padma Bridge opened to traffic. However, the local bus owners' group prevented those buses from reaching their destinations."

"On June 27, BRTC held a talk with the local administration and the bus owners' group, and the problems were resolved. For now, six buses will ply the route," he said.

"A decision was taken at the meeting that BRTC buses cannot stop at the district town to take passengers for one month. It is a tentative decision, but we hope people of the district town will get BRTC services soon," he added.

Some 15 buses of Shariatpur Inter-district Bus and Minibus Owners' Association, which do not have route permits, are plying Dhaka-Shariatpur route.

Faruk Ahmed Talukdar, president of the association, said, "Our buses still don't have route permits, but we have applied for them."

"The problems centring BRTC buses have been resolved. We said BRTC buses cannot pick up local passengers from the district town," he said, when asked about reasons for stopping the movement of BRTC buses.

"For a long time, bus owners have sustained the transport sector, bearing losses. Now, the good time has come. So, other bus companies have been requested to run buses by coordinating with us," Faruk added.

It is not just BRTC that is being forced to comply with the association.

Abul Kalam Azad, chairperson of Shariatpur Padma Travels, said, "Ten buses of our company, which have route permits, are plying Dhaka-Shariatpur route. But leaders of the bus owners' association are enacting embargoes. And so, our buses are now being operated from Naria, not the district town."

Contacted, DC Md Parvez Hasan said BRTC buses on Tuesday started operating again, as the problems have been resolved.


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