The authorities have initiated a move to relax public transport fares for the differently abled people and their personal associates.
The move has come pursuant to the National Action Plan-2019 of the social welfare ministry.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority has recently sent a letter to the Road Transport and Highways Division with a request for taking the next steps in this regard.
‘We have urged the division to hold an inter-ministerial meeting on the matter in the presence of the transport leaders,’ said BRTA chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder.
No rates of relaxed fares have yet been fixed as the discussion is in the primary stage, he added.
According to the population census 2011, differently abled people account for 1.41 per cent of Bangladesh’s population.
At present there are 21.43 lakh differently abled people in the country with autism, down syndrome, visual, hearing or speech impairment and other kinds of physical and mental disabilities, according to statistics from the Disability Identification Programme of the Department of Social Services.
The country is yet to arrange suitable public transport facilities, including buses, trains and launches, for the differently abled people.
Lack of such facilities also forces these people to spend more money on travels as most of them, especially the wheelchair users, cannot get on buses and have to hire taxi cabs or CNG-powered auto rickshaws.
There are no portable ramps in buses in the capital or elsewhere in the country to facilitate the differently abled people to get on these vehicles.
Usually nine seats are kept reserved in public buses, including those of the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation, for women, elderly persons and differently abled people.
Most of these reserved seats are occupied by others as differently abled people cannot even get on the buses due to huge pressure of passengers and for negligence of transport workers and other passengers.
There is also no monitoring system to check this irregularity.
Under these circumstances, the social welfare ministry sent a letter to the BRTA and BRTC on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020 to take steps in accordance with its National Action Plan-2019.
The action plan asks the authorities to fix relaxed fares for differently abled persons and their associates, reserve 5 per cents of the seats for them and provide entry and exit facilities to such people in all public transports.
On December 31, 2020, the BRTA sent a letter to the RTHD secretary Md Nazrul Islam.
Currently, the letter said, there is no provision for relaxed fares in public transports for differently abled people and their associates, for which they face difficulties to avail such transports.
There is a need for an inter-ministerial meeting with all stakeholders, including bus owners associations, as relaxation of fares is a financial issue, the letter added.
BRTA chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said on Thursday that the RTHD was yet to reply to their request.
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