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Ban unfit commercial and private vehicles

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DHAKA South City Corporation has launched a drive on March 5 against unfit commercial vehicles and unlicensed drivers to bring the capital's traffic under discipline in association with Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority and Dhaka District Administration. The drive is due to end on March 23.

It is a good endeavour indeed. According to media report in four days since the drive kicked-off, three mobile courts confiscated 24 dilapidated buses, realized fines worth Tk 6.4 lakh and filed 293 cases over various irregularities like running uninsured buses . But enforcement officials said that all the buses that ran for 20 years or more suddenly disappeared from the roads.

It seems that the owners withdrew their old and dilapidated buses from the road and took them to workshops in the capital and its outskirts for suitable makeover to press them on the roads after the drive is over. Thus the drive meant to bring discipline on the roads seems to have produced nothing except temporary sufferings of the city dwellers due to shortage of commercial vehicles.

In fact, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the supervising organisation of Road Transport Sector is not well equipped to monitor and control the fault of vehicles and drivers. BRTA has only one automated Vehicle Inspection Centre (VIC) in the country at its Mirpur outlet. According to concerned sources, over the last four months BRTA has tested 1,268 commercially-run vehicles at its VIC in Mirpur outlet. Only 300 of them passed the test, while the rest 968 have various fitness problems. At least 75 per cent of them have problem in their brakes and headlights. Most of these vehicles are plying in the streets, posing serious risks of accident.

But the real problem is much more serious. At least 11 lakh motor-bikes, private cars and commercially-run vehicles are registered with the BRTA in the capital's Mirpur and Uttara and Ekuria in Keraniganj. The only VIC in Mirpur checks only the commercially-run vehicles. Other private vehicles are checked manually, which is not foolproof. In other BRTA outlets across the country, all vehicles are tested through manual inspection. This means thousands, if not lakhs, of vehicles may have fitness problems that remain undetected.

Thus, faulty vehicles with untrained drivers are at risk of getting into serious accidents. In this circumstances government should take bold steps to make BRTA capable and transparent in their duty. At the same time unwanted interference of powerful politicians in the name of protection of so-called interest of transport workers also must be stopped.

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