Caution called for in BRTC truck service expansion

THE plight of the truck service of the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation — as one in three trucks are declared out of service and dumped — and fresh efforts to rev up the truck service with plans for the procurement of 500 trucks — leave a few issues to be sorted out. The state-run transport agency has 146 trucks in its fleet, with 98 now running on the road, busy ferrying public corporation goods on a limited scale. No new trucks have been added to the fleet in 11 years since 2005 when the transport agency received 10 trucks from Pragoti Industries Limited, the government’s car assembling and car parts manufacturing company. The 98 trucks that the agency now has in service ferry goods, mostly of four public entities, and the agency wants to step up its truck service to carry more goods and up its share of the goods transport sector, which is largely dependent on, according to estimates of the association of privately run goods vehicles, about 1.15 lakh trucks, 78,201 pick-up vans and 17,343 covered vans.
In such a situation, the authorities planning an expansion of the service need to tread path cautiously as while it is important for the government to have the adequate strength to deploy its goods vehicles in times of emergencies, such as general strikes, in its efforts to reduce the government’s dependence on private truck operators, it is equally important for the authorities to effectively plan the expansion so that the agency does not head into losses and trouble as it did in the passenger transport segment. Past experiences show, as media reported several times, that the agency has always faltered in its bus service on all routes, either because of reported corruption, an effort to advantage operators, having political clout, in the private sector or because of opposition by profiteering private operators, even leading to skirmishes at times over monopoly of the road transport sector. Yet still, the trucks that the agency has, meanwhile, sometimes need to do overloading and this shows that the truck service is in demand, especially in the public entity goods transport for various reasons, and calls out the authorities on expanding the service. But all that is warranted is that the expansion should not be a further burden on the agency while the efforts should help the government at least to be able to carry its own goods, if not of others, with enough capacity to sustain any emergencies. The other aspect that the government should look into is why the capacity of the agency has fallen to such a deplorable level and whether there were anyone responsible for such a situation.
It is important for the government not only to improve its capacity in terms of ferrying goods, it is also imperative for the government to assess why the agency has reached such a situation. A proper resolution of these issues can only help the agency to roll on the road profitably.

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