Public money wasted as vehicle tracking project derails

Shahin Akhter and Shakhawat Hossain | Published: 00:59, Feb 15,2018 | Updated: 01:11, Feb 15,2018

 
 

Vehicle owners are not getting any benefit of the millions of money they have spent buying retro reflective number plates as the stated aims of the government project — tracking stolen vehicles and checking criminal activities — remain unfulfilled.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority took the project of fixing RR number plates with radio-frequency identification in 2012 with much pomp that vehicles’ tracking system was now digitised.
Only 50 vehicles have been tracked down by BRTA with the help of RFID check posts installed in a dozen of secret points in the capital following request by police so far, officials have said.
But by this time, BRTA has realised approximately Tk 499.33 crore for providing 20,38,711 number plates with RFID tags, charging Tk 1,805 each from 13,27,568 motorcycles and three wheelers, and Tk 3,652, each from 7,11,143 buses, minibuses, trucks, cars and other vehicles.
The overwhelming growth of vehicles in Dhaka has created big scope for Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory which was awarded the supply deal of the RR number plates without any tender and allowed to renew the deal after the initial five-year deal expired last year.
Road Transport and Bridges secretary Md Nazrul Islam admitted that they were a bit away from the main aims of the project.
Talking to New Age on Sunday, he noted that many more RFID check posts should be established in new points of the capital and major highways to make the system effective.
‘There should be a central monitoring system for the tracking system for which involvement of highway police is necessary,’ observed Nazrul.
The BRTA officials said 12 RFID check posts would have the capacity to track down vehicles with RR number plates and RFID tags within a periphery of only 11 meters.
They, however, said plan had been taken to expand the tracking facilities all over the country.
BRTA was planning to take a joint project with highway police with possible fund from Asian Development Bank to expand tracking facility on major highways, the secretary said.
Experts have expressed doubt about success of the project saying that the technology used for tracking down the vehicles is not suitable and the authorities lack technical manpower to handle and operate the system.
They also think that the technology adopted by BRTA is costly compared to the available and cheap technologies like global positioning system.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s civil engineering department professor Shamsul Hoque said that the government was forcing people to pay money without giving services it promised.
‘Like other many people I also feel cheated,’ he said.
BRTA director (operation) Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas said they were currently trying to hand over the check posts to Dhaka Metropolitan Police as tracking was their responsibility.
About the expansion initiative, Sitangshu said cameras with check posts were proposed to be installed on national highways like Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Sylhet highways to track down and monitor movement of vehicles with RR number plates and RFID tags.
Many vehicles owners have alleged that many number plates are already in a worn-out condition while the RFID tags are also easily removed.
The Authorities said the fees were taken as the plates were strong and would have other features like ability to send back lights at night.
The initiative to introduce new plates with tracking system was conceived in 2004 and was taken during controversial tenure of communications minister Syed Abul Hossain in 2009.

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