BRTC shouldn’t bow down to Shariatpur transport owners
We are surprised to learn about the conditions being imposed on government buses under Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) to ply the Dhaka-Shariatpur route via Padma Bridge. Reportedly, a syndicate of bus owners and workers in Shariatpur prevented BRTC buses from plying the route after the bridge opened to traffic on June 26, claiming that BRTC did not coordinate with them. Later, at a meeting of the regional transport committee, it was decided that the state-run agency can run a maximum of six buses and that those cannot stop for passengers in the district town. Needless to say, such unreasonable conditions go against the interest of passengers. This is also an example of how the transport owners' associations rule the sector while the BTRC almost always gives in to their pressures.
While Shariatpur's private bus owners succeeded in getting nearly all BRTC buses off the streets, they have not yet done all the necessary work to run their own on the route. Reportedly, among the three private bus companies that have started operations, one does not have any route permit. Currently, some 15 such buses are plying the route via Padma Bridge despite having no legal permits. This is yet another example of the indifference of transport owners to rules and regulations.
The logic that private bus owners have given is that they counted losses for years and now that the newly opened route have created opportunities for them, all bus companies, including the BRTC, should coordinate with them. While we do not have anything against anyone trying to make profits, we just hope it will be done legitimately and that they will not use their influence to control the sector. We have seen how these companies and associations have opposed the many important sections of the Road Transport Act 2018. It is because of their opposition and constant lobbying that the law has still not been fully implemented. But like any business company, they are bound to follow rules and thus should stop creating anarchy in the sector.
We also think that the BRTC should not bow down to pressures from such companies, however powerful. As a state-run agency, it is liable to the people only. It has the power to decide how many buses it would run on this new route and from where they will take passengers. More BRTC buses mean more people having safe and reasonably low-cost options to commute from Shariatpur to Dhaka and vice versa. People should not be deprived of that service.