Motor vehicle fitness tests would be outsourced to private institutions as the road transport and bridges ministry recently formed a committee in this regard, said officials.
The first meeting of the seven-member committee was held on Thursday at the head office of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority to submit recommendations on criteria of private institutions to the ministry by September 15.
It took seven years to form the committee after the initiative was taken.
Supporting the initiative, road safety experts and activists alleged that the incumbent fitness tests by BRTA were nothing but ‘mockery’ with the people.
They suggested the authorities to engage capable companies for fitness tests and ensure accountability of the companies.
BRTA chairman Md Moshiar Rahman told New Age on Thursday that the initiative would expedite the fitness checking procedure.
Fitness tests of vehicles at BRTA offices across the country were carried out manually while there was only one vehicle inspection centre at BRTA’s Mirpur circle office in the capital.
Service seekers have to wait in long queues all day long for fitness checking due to lack of motor vehicle inspectors while there were also allegations that fitness certificates were available even without taking vehicles at these offices.
Back in 2012, BRTA ran two advertisements in February and March asking workshops to get registered with it as it has plans to outsource the vehicle fitness examination by the end of that year as it lacked adequate facilities for carrying out the task.
The move was halted after opposition from an association of owners of motor workshops and some officials of BRTA.
Road transport and bridge ministry in an office order on August 25 formed a committee to fix criteria of private institutions for checking fitness of vehicles.
The committee chairman is Road Transport and Highways Division additional secretary (estate) and member-secretary is BRTA director (operation).
The other members are - BRTA directors of engineering and road safety departments, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation director (technical) and two representatives from BRAC and Accident Research Institution of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association secretary general Khandakar Enayet Ullah said that the initiative of outsourcing fitness tests was good.
‘We incur in losses as our vehicles stand in day-long queues at three circle offices in the capital for fitness tests,’ he said and added that if private companies got the job then the owners could go to any convenient place for the tests.
Md Shamsul Hoque, former director of Accident Research Institute at BUET, told New Age Thursday that in developed countries the private entities checked fitness of motor vehicles.
He mentioned that the initiative was first taken in 2011 while some of the BRTA officials did not agree with the proposal.
He alleged that motor vehicle inspectors were the direct beneficiary of the incumbent testing system. ‘In the name of fitness checking, BRTA does only mockery.’
He suggested phase-wise implementation of the outsourcing initiative as most of the motor vehicles would not be able to get fitness certificate if all of these 42 items were checked.
Many good initiatives like this one went ineffective in the past due to negligence of the regulatory authorities which should also be checked in this case, he added.
Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh, said that BRTA lacked manpower for checking fitness of motor vehicles while the number of vehicles was increasing day by day.
Still many vehicles got fitness certificate without tests following underhand dealings with some dishonest officials, he alleged.
‘The government should bring the private organisations under accountability when the initiative will be implemented,’ he added.
Nirapad Sarak Chai women affairs secretary Manjuly Kazi supported the initiative to outsource vehicle fitness tests as BRTA staff checked fitness of vehicles by only eyes.
The government should engage more than one company in this regard for facilitating people to get service, she added.