BRTC leaves 32 inter dist routes to pvt operators

Shahin Akhter

State run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation has been facing obstructions from private bus operators in opening and continuing its bus service on inter-district routes, said officials.
In last five years, BRTC was compelled to wind up its bus service from at least 32 inter-district routes to facilitate monopoly business of private bus companies, said the officials.
Travellers said that they were being forced to pay more to private bus companies on these routes, they said.
BRTC charged less than the private bus companies, they said.
The government seems to be reluctant to address the issues allegedly due to under hand dealings, said passengers.
The road transport and bridges ministry secretary MAN Siddique and BRTC chairman Mohammad Mizanur Rahman admitted that there was pressure from private bus companies to throw BRTC buses out of several routes.
‘And some of the low paid staff of BRTC might be involved in underhand dealings with private operators. But our ministry maintains a firm position to foster   competition between private bus companies and BRTC,’ said Siddique.
On March 13, BRTC opened its air-conditioned bus service on Dhaka-Munshiganj route and only two days later the police shut down BRTC’s ticket counter at Gulistan.
Passengers saw private bus company men accompanying the police when the BRTC’s ticket counter was shut down.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Md Mainul Islam told New Age that the ticketing counter was shut down as BRTC opened it without taking permission from the police.
He also said that before opening the Dhaka-Munshiganj bus service ‘BRTC had sought our opinion and before we could give our opinion they inaugurated the route.’
The Road Transport Corporation Ordinance 1961 authorizes BRTC to operate motor transport on any route it thinks fit.
Since 2010, out of 958 buses imported spending about Tk 620 crore, BRTC  pressed 473 buses on its city routes in Dhaka and Chittagong while 318 buses were pressed on inter-district routes.
Now, 717 of the buses imported since 2010 are operational, 141 are under heavy repairing, four have been declared as Beyond Economic Repair and 14 more are waiting to be declared as BER.
BRTC operates direct bus service between Dhaka and 20 outlying districts.
BRTC also runs bus service on other inter-district routes providing travel facilities between almost all the 64 districts, mostly skirting the capital, said officials.
Major routes BRTC was forced to give up include, Dhaka-Sunamganj, Sylhet-Chittagong, Sylhet-Khulna, Barisal-Benapole, Dhaka-Bogra, Dhaka-Kabirhat, Chittagong-Bhola, Comilla-Rangpur and  Panchagar-Pirojpur.
Following obstructions from private bus companies BRTC also had to wind up its Dhaka- Patharghata bus service and Narayanganj-Jamalpur service immediately after opening them, said officials.
Officials said BRTC faced obstructions  from private bus operators while opening all the bus  service  on almost 214 routes.
They said that BRTC was compelled to wind up its bus service on so many routes due to the ties wealthy and influential private bus service owners maintain with  the high ups in the administration.
On August 16, 2013, BRTC had pressed  two AC buses on its Dhaka-Ghorasal-Sylhet  route and 15 days later was forced to shut it down on orders from the higher  authorities, said a BRTC official.
Later, BRTC launched Dhaka-Jatrabari-Sylhet bus service leaving the Dhaka-Ghorashal-Sylhet route to Ena Transport, he  said.
It takes about six hours to reach Sylhet from Dhaka via Ghorashal but it takes about 10 to 12 hours to reach Sylhet from Dhaka via Jatrabari-Gausia-Kanchpur Bridge, he said.
Ena Transport charges Tk 750 for each seat on AC coach for the travel between Dhaka and Sylhet via Ghorasal while BRTC used to charge Tk 550 for each seat on its AC coach, said the official.
Finally, BRTC had to abandon its Dhaka-Jatrabari-Sylhet service as no passenger was willing to pay more, he said.
Later, he said, BRTC rerouted the service between Dhaka and Sunamganj and was again forced to abandon it, he added.
BRTC stops its buses on Dhaka-Mymensingh route at the turn of the Brahmaputra River as it is not allowed to stop the buses at the Mymensingh bus terminal, he said.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association secretary general and owner of Ena Transport on routes including Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Mymensingh, K Enayet Ullah, denied that they created such   obstructions for BRTC.

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