Will Dhaka finally be free of faulty buses?
The section 25 of Road Transport Act-2018 clearly states that operation of unfit and rundown vehicles is a punishable offence and one may face up to six-month jail or Tk 25,000 fine or both.
Besides, there are dedicated persons such as vehicle inspectors, at the offices of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), who are supposed to check all these aspects before giving fitness clearance to a particular vehicle.
But, even with the strict legal provision and monitoring mechanism in place, rundown buses ply the city streets, contributing to road crashes and pollution, under the very nose of the authorities.
Although the authorities on several occasions took steps to drive such vehicles off the city streets, they often failed in face of the opposition from transport associations.
BRTA once again decided to conduct drives against such vehicles.
The regulatory authority last week wrote letters to the transport associations for fixing problems of all faulty buses and minibuses within November 30, BRTA officials said.
Otherwise, the authority will conduct a mobile court drive against the vehicles after the deadline, they said.
BRTA has also published advertisements on different national dailies asking transport owners to fix their problem within November 30.
In the meantime, BRTA has directed all of its vehicle inspectors not to provide fitness clearance to any faulty vehicles. Otherwise, punitive actions would be taken against them too, the officials added.
WHY THE MOVE?
The move came after the Road Transport and Highway Division last week asked BRTA to take strict action against rundown buses.
Bangladesh is a developing country -- the beauty of the city and the image of the country largely depend on the vehicles operating in the city, said a BRTA official, citing the division's letter.
But it has been observed that some discoloured and rundown buses with broken doors, windows and lights are being operated in the city.
Besides, some buses emit black smoke while some with non-functional fans and filthy seat covers ply on the city streets, causing sufferings to passengers.
Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas, director (engineering) of BRTA, said upon receiving a letter from the division, they have sent a letter to the transport associations to fix their faulty buses within November 30.
"We are very serious about the move," he told The Daily Star last night.
Letters were sent to Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners Association and Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation, another BRTA official said.
Khondaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, confirmed that they have received the letter.
"We will ask all our members to comply with the BRTA directives," he told this correspondent last night.
Meanwhile, BRTA headquarters, on October 11, has sent a letter to all vehicle inspectors not to provide fitness clearance to any faulty vehicles.
If anyone does so, action would be taken against them as per the section 25 (2) of the Road Transport Act, reads the letter.
DIFFICULT TO IMPLEMENT
A BRTA official said they have given similar directives to the owners and even conducted drives against faulty vehicles on earlier occasions.
But they could not achieve the desired results as transport owners and workers always took a stance against such drives, he said seeking anonymity.
Another BRTA official said it is difficult to maintain order on roads due to manpower crisis and lack of equipment at BRTA.
He said there are some 125 vehicle inspectors at different offices of BRTA, and it is not possible for them to check all elements (around 60) of a bus before issuing fitness clearance.
Besides, it is impossible to check all the bus elements manually, he said, adding that BRTA has only one vehicle inspector machine.
So, most of the vehicles are being checked manually and some elements including emission of smoke can not be checked, he lamented.
In this given situation, it is almost impossible to ensure operation of faultless vehicles in the capital due to lack of capacity.