Crackdown on unfit buses
Home-goers to face transport crisis
Md Joynal Abedin KhanÂ :
Around 80 lakh city dwellers going to their home districts for the upcoming Eid-ul-fitr holidays may face a more difficult journey than usual this year, as a significant number of vehicles are likely to be out of service.
Bus operators say about one third of the total number of buses are likely to be out of service as they lack proper documentation.
The owners of different bus companies are scrambling to ensure their buses have fitness certificates and other related documents, following the recent ultimatum of the Home Minister for road safety and resulting in crackdown on unfit vehicles.
On Sunday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal warned that unprofessional drivers would not be allowed to drive vehicles during Eid-ul-Fitr.Â "Police patrol will keep vigil on the highways so that no unskilled driver can sit behind the steering. Licence of the vehicles will be examined also," said the minister.
According to inside sources, maximum 35 lakh passengers may get chance to leave Dhaka through buses during Eid holidays while five lakh passengers go through trains and two lakh people by water transports.
A data from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) showed that 228,000 heavy vehicles are registered with the BRTA, including 45,537 buses. However, the authorities have only issued 138,000 driving licenses for driving heavy vehicles. In order to get the license to drive a heavy vehicle, a driver needs a minimum of six years driving experience.
According to passenger safety experts, buses make five times the number of trips they usually do during Eid, often resulting in an increased number of road accidents.
The Bangladesh Road and Transport Corporation (BRTC) runs a small number of special bus services to adjoining districts during Eid to reduce the strain on other bus services, but the corporation is also in the process of updating documentation.
BRTC sources said that they have a total 1200 buses in Bangladesh, including those for long routes.
Bangladesh Passengers' Welfare Association (BPWA) Secretary General Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said people always face a transportation crisis during Eid, but this year it was likely to be more serious.
"The crackdown on unfit vehicles and drivers without licenses, the number of buses will be low and the crisis could be huge," he said.
The BPWA secretary general further said that the bus companies might try to make more trips to make up for the lower number of buses, increasing chances of accidents.
Shyamoli Paribahan Managing Director and Chairman of Bangladesh Bus-Truk Owners Association Ramesh Chandra Ghosh, said, "We have around 600 buses on 40 routes across the country. Usually, we can run 90 per cent of the buses during Eid, but this time it may vary between 60 per cent to 70 per cent."
He said that the reason about 30 pc of the buses would not be running was because fitness certificates of the vehicles and the licenses of drivers were in the process of being renewed. About 1,200 drivers they employ to drive the 500 buses, about 900 would be on duty during Eid.
Hanif Enterprise sources said they would also be fielding between 20 and 30 per cent fewer buses than usual during the holidays due to problems with documentation.
However, the impact was less likely to be felt with the company as they had acquired 300 new buses for Eid, he added.