Rickety buses getting facelift ahead of Eid festival

Unfit vehicles to rule roads despite teen protest

Jubair Hasan | Published: August 11, 2018 09:48:49 | Updated: August 11, 2018 14:24:28

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A section of transport owners are busy renovating their rundown buses to give those a new and classy look to avoid stringent traffic scrutiny after the recent student protest over road safety.

The face-lift of the outworn buses will also help the owners cash in on the usual mad rush of home-goers before and after the Eid-ul-Azha, which will be celebrated in less than two weeks.

This correspondent found such practice after visiting various garages in the city's Demra, Jatrabari, and Gabtoli areas.

A good number of passenger buses were gathered there to give such an impressive look and other repairs ahead of the upcoming Eid festival.

Such a situation will further deteriorate the road-based transportation system by increasing the risk of accidents, transportation experts and officials said.

They said the safety issue of the passengers across the country is being ignored, as the transport owners are mightier than the regulators.

The quick repair of such vehicles, however, contradicts the firm commitment of the state agencies not to allow unfit vehicles on roads and highways before and after the Eid journey.

The garage owners said the transport operators usually go for such renovation work ahead of the festivals when the pressure of passengers is comparatively much high.

The new-looking vehicles can help the operators attract more passengers and quick gains and the ongoing traffic week across the country added extra dimension this year, according to them.

Proprietor of Demra-based Arif Body Builders Mohammad Arif Hossain said the workload normally goes up during festival season but the pressure was doubled after the recent student movement for ensuring road discipline.

"Last year, we received orders for refurbishing three buses but now it rose to five. We're now repainting bodies of these buses and doing some other repairs," he said.

Owner of Lokman Body Builders Lokman Hossain said the bus owners chose the protest days for making some renovation, taking the advantage of the recent transportation strike.

"All the buses you saw here are unfit. Our duty is only to refurbish those -- that means body painting and replacing the seats and covers," he said.

When asked about such unfit transports, a staff of Shamim Automobile said they are not authorised to check the fitness of vehicles.

"From our experience, we can say whether a bus is fit or not. Many unfit buses were brought here for repair, and we are just repairing those. The operators somehow manage fitness certificates for those vehicles in a short time," he added.

However, the bus owners said people have negative perception about transport operators that they refurbish outmoded buses.

But the reality is most of the buses are not rundown, though they are renovated.

Khandaker Enayetullah, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Samity, was critical of local media for portraying a wrong picture of the repair work.

"If you visit the garages after the Eid festival, you will find the same picture. I can guarantee you that no unfit vehicle will be allowed to carry the home-goers."

Talking to the FE, a senior official of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) said they cannot take strict measures against such operators due to the shortage of transports during the Eid festivals.

He said around 35 per cent of the vehicles that operate during the festivals are faulty or outworn. The department concerned also lacks enough skilled manpower and regulatory power to ensure journey with compliant transports.

Elias Kanchan, chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai, a passenger rights organisation, said allowing rundown buses after renovation to carry an increased number of passengers during the Eid festivals is commonplace in the country.

The malpractice takes away a good number of lives through accidents during such occasions, he said.

"But who cares? The agencies concerned always take it lightly despite our repeated warnings," he said. "It happens because the transport operators are mightier than the regulator."


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