All drives against unfit buses bite the dust

Shahin Akhter | Published: 00:01, Feb 18,2017

 
 

Unfit vehicles ply Dhaka south city streets posing risk to lives of commuters and polluting the environment. The photos were taken recently. — Sanaul Haque

Repeated drives against unfit buses in the capital come to nothing in the absence of alternative transportation service, integrated plan and lack of coordination among different authorities concerned, urban planners have pointed out.
Since the 2001-2006 term of BNP government, when Nazmul Huda served as communication minister, to the incumbent road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader of Awami League-led government, drives were announced against buses older than 20 years but the situation did not change.
The High Court on August 3, 2015 directed the road transport ministry and the police to keep unfit vehicles off the roads.
On Wednesday, Dhaka south city mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon announced another drive against unfit buses in the city from March 1.
The experts are afraid that the upcoming drive would also face the same fate for the same reasons.
Mubasshar Hussain, former president of Institute of Architects Bangladesh, told New Age that drives against unfit vehicles should be conducted on a daily basis as per the rule.
‘How could these buses run in a city where the president, the prime minister and the chief justice reside and this irregularity is taking place in front of their eyes,’ he wondered.
‘If the drive starts without integrated initiative and coordination among authorities, people themselves will come out in favour of the same old unfit buses,’ he feared.
He said the city buses were not only unfit but also modified entirely and damaged severely while the law enforcing agencies and other authorities were doing nothing.
‘The government has to put new buses on roads and remove the unfit ones from roads simultaneously,’ he suggested.
He also blamed the BRTC for letting a big portion of its buses be engaged in carrying government staff and students.
‘Why are these buses lying idle? Even there are shares of beggars in the money meant for buying these buses. These buses can run in midday also to carry other people,’ he said.
Iqbal Habib, urban planner and joint secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan, claimed that currently about 60 per cent the buses in the capital were older than 20 years.
‘What alternative arrangement do the authorities make when they launch such a drive?’ he asked, commenting that these drives only aggravate people’s sufferings.
The DSCC mayor should have discussed with all stakeholders and taken a complete plan with a holistic approach, preparatory action plan and consensus before taking any initiative.
He said Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority was responsible for discussing with all concerned to develop an integrated plan for Dhaka’s transport system.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president and Nitol Niloy Group chairman Abdul Matlub Ahmad said the investors were not interested to put new and quality buses on roads in the capital as the turnover was too low due to low fare and no waiting charge.
He also blamed unholy competition among vehicles which left buses damaged with scratches on their bodies and traffic congestion which limited the number of trips.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association secretary general Khandaker Enayet Ullah said the mayor did not discuss with them before deciding the drive against unfit vehicles.
DTCA executive director (acting) Md Zakir Hossain Mazumder said they had nothing to do with launching new buses in the city.
‘BRTA and the city corporations are responsible for deciding if new buses will run or old buses will be taken off the city roads. This is out of our jurisdiction,’ he said.
The Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority Act, 2012’s section 8 (kha) says that one of the aims and objects of the authorities is to provide direction and advice in the implementation of Dhaka’s public transport-related policies and plans.
When asked if BRTC would put into service its buses in the capital during the drive, its chairman Mizanur Rahman said the south city corporation officials did not discuss with them about any such move.
BRTA director (operation) Sitangshu S Biswas also echoed the BRTC chairman saying that they had no discussion with the city corporation about the upcoming drive or providing any alternatives on roads. 

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