ANOMALIES in ridesharing service sector by way of unapproved and uncertified companies and vehicles continuing the operation are worrisome. Half of the twelve ridesharing companies that have got approval from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority have not yet received enlistment certificates and yet they are offering services. Only six companies and 600 motor vehicles, as New Age reported on Sunday, have received enlistment certificates, which is mandatory according to the Ridesharing Services Guideline 2017. After the introduction of ridesharing service in the country by Uber Technologies Inc in November 2016, the service gained popularity in different cities; but many companies and vehicles running the operation without approval and enlistment certificates have come to draw flak, especially following wide allegations of poor training of drivers, lack of safety measures and high fare. The Ridesharing Services Guideline 2017 stipulates that a company, with at least 100 vehicles under its fleet, can have the enlistment certificate. On the ground, reality is however more chaotic as many vehicles, not enlisted in any of the ridesharing companies, and many companies, not having enlistment certificate, are plying the roads offering rides.
Rampant violations of the ridesharing guideline are causing a sense of fear and mistrust among the passengers availing the service. To mention, the guideline makes it mandatory for the companies to keep a SOS system in their service so that it allows to send information of the riders and passengers’ location automatically to the national emergency helpline to protect the users or riders from any threat or crimes — including sexual harassments, mugging and even terrorist attacks; but most ridesharing companies have not implemented this clause of the guideline. Some road accidents involving ridesharing services, especially in motorbike, have also raised question of a legal framework to regulate the service providers. Although ridesharing services using motorcycles are becoming popular as they can save time in cities in the grip of traffic snarls, untrained bikers employed under these services are often a cause of fatal accidents. What is worrisome is that as these bikers possess non-professional driving licences their driving skills were not tested by any authorities, including the employing companies. Almost none of the bikers have any training from any government agency or the ridesharing companies. As such, accidents have marked a significant rise, causing death and serious injuries.
The Road Transport Authority, under the circumstances, needs to design and enforce an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure that the Ridesharing Service Guideline is abided by all companies. Before giving certificate to companies, the authority needs to evaluate properly that all requirements are fulfilled. Above all, the authorities concerned and the ridesharing companies must ensure safety of passengers and riders. Ridesharing companies also need to take steps to train drivers and include more requirements of skills before letting them carry passengers.
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