The Financial Express

Dhaka's planned company-based bus service far from being ready

| Updated: January 19, 2021 18:45:46

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Dhaka's planned company-based bus service far from being ready

The planned company-based bus service on the Bosila-Motijheel route is going to be like that of the traditional trip-based services for not following the procedures of a joint venture company.

Sources said the company is neither formed under the office of the joint stock companies nor it has shareholders and capital investment.

"The new bus company would be nothing but a new colour bus service. It means old wine in a new bottle," said a bus owner involved in the process of forming the company.

Sources said Dhaka Bus Owners Association (DBOA), assigned to form the company under green cluster, has merged three companies having around 100 owners with 200 buses.

The ownership of buses and trip-sharing will be counted to get their shares from daily earning, they added.

It is found that the names of the companies operating buses on the Bosila-Motijheel route, the number of owners and buses were totally different from those on the lists prepared by Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) and DBOA.

A special committee has announced the launch of company-based bus service. Under the leadership of the mayors of two Dhaka city corporations, the committee was formed to work on bus route rationalisation (BRR) during its 13th and 14th meetings.

The DTCA as a member secretary has been taking necessary steps to develop route facilities including bus bays, depot and bus terminals. It will also provide necessary support to all stakeholders with the help of Dhaka South and Dhaka North City Corporations--DSCC and DNCC.

According to the assignment, DTCA has sent a list of five companies with 165 buses to DBOA to merge those into one company. But it was totally different from the list of DBOA.

DTCA officials said the list was prepared as per the route permit list of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and the findings of a study on BRR.

DBOA Secretary General Enayetullah Khandakar said all the companies on the list have discontinued their services without the knowledge of BRTA and DTCA.

He claimed that the information on the association's list with three companies is updated and correct.

"BRTA and DTCA do not have up-to-date information," he told the FE at his office on Thursday when asked about different lists of the companies.

After reviewing the list of route permit which was prepared based on the last meeting of RTA in August, the FE found that DTCA made the list of buses running from Bosila or Batara but crossing through Asad Gate to go to Mirpur Road for Motijheel.

Only one bus-company got route permit to use the entire 10-km corridor through Jhigatola and Science Laboratory to reach Shahbagh for Motijheel.

The FE also found that among the DBOA's listed three companies, one also operates from Khidma Hospital at Khilgaon to Ghatarchar through Motijheel and Shahbagh.

But none included the buses which also use the route through Asad Gate or Farmgate to mix in the pilot route either at Science Laboratory or Shahbagh.

The names found on the DTCA list included Meskat-2, Superior, Rajdhani Express, Rajacity Paribahan and Kamal Plus. Another route permit was allowed for five other companies-- Rajacity, Metropolitan, Moitree, Lockwood and Fateh Transport.

The DBOA listed the names of Midline, Rajanigandha and Malancho. Of these, Rajanigandha operates 122 buses having 55 owners.

Reviewing the BRTA list, it is found that at least 15 more companies use the corridor through Mirpur Road or Farmgate to mix with the route.

While talking with different stakeholders including the special committee members about the issue, the FE correspondent found that the pilot project has been planned to be launched without following all necessary procedures.

They alleged that as the transport sector is grappling with multiple problems including political influence and corruption, the pilot route has been prepared to give a start or sensitise the people.

When asked about the difference between the lists, DTCA traffic engineer Anisur Rahman said they have sent both the lists to BRTA.

BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said they have received the lists.

Regarding the difference in the lists, he said BRTA cannot update the information about buses running on permitted routes due to lack of manpower.

Transport owners alleged that many new members have also been included in the proposed company formed by DBOA.

Refuting the allegation, Khandaker Enayetullah said many buses on the routes were unfit and withdrawn especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

He also said the new pilot project would not be successful unless the government provides necessary financial support to bus owners. The government is yet to fix the fares of buses, bus bays, stations with passenger sheds and terminals.

"Though the special committee agreed to provide loan to the members at 4.5 per cent interest to remodel the existing buses, no such effort in this regard has been made," he alleged.

During the 14th meeting, the committee assigned BRTA to fix the fares for the pilot route, registration of buses with the same number, rearrange the seats according to specification to launch the route on April 1 under the banner of Dhaka Nagar Paribahan.

The committee will hold its 15th meeting today (Tuesday) to review the progress on the pilot route.

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