TRANSPORT owners running their vehicles under a few transport companies on specific routes has come to be talked about for a few years now. Decisions have finally started going ahead in this direction as transport owners and workers have agreed, as New Age reported on Tuesday, to run their buses under such a coordinated transport management in the capital city, where about 20.5 million trips, of all vehicles, take place, according to information referring to a 2011 study given on the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority web site, on an average working day. This has earlier also been viewed as a solution to the chaotic traffic — marked by shortage of public transport, the poor and rickety condition of the vehicles, route wars between transport operators, harassment of passengers instigated by profit motives of transport companies and, above all, brief periods of transport operators holding passengers hostage on some occasions — but this has never been tried and put to test. There have been a number of plans, experiments and their execution by relevant authorities in the past but none of them has so far been able to effectively streamline the city transport sector and afford the needed relief to passengers.
It is in this context that the meeting that city authorities held with the Dhaka Road Transport Owners’ Association on Monday brings to the fore efforts to resolve the transport problem of the city. This could entirely be a failure but as all other efforts made earlier have failed to produce any good for city dwellers, the new approach should at least for once be tried. About 5,000 buses would run on major routes under six companies, which means that there would be no unhealthy competition between transport operators. Once the plan is set rolling, 4,000 more buses would be put into service, which is supposed to ease the city traffic problem. And as buses more than five years old are planned to be carrying staff and students, the problem is likely to ease further. City authorities have also talked about setting up bus depots at Uttara, Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Phulbaria and Kanchpur, a central workshop and a driving institution, some other problems such as the parking of vehicles on the road that narrows the road space for traffic should automatically be resolved. But what the authorities concerned need to look into is that the plan for low interest rate on the purchase of bus, which might open further scope for financial irregularities, is not abused and is strictly monitored.
City authorities have already had the consent of all the 140 transport companies that run buses in the capital city. It is now time for the stakeholders — mainly city authorities and transport owners — to go ahead collectively to execute the plan as it will benefit the government, the transport owners and the passengers. The government, under the circumstances, must enable the environment for the stakeholders, with proper policy support and legal framework, to iron out the chaos on city roads.