POST TIME: 2 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Transport sector: Plan with a vision

Transport sector: Plan with a vision

When maximising profit with minimum of investment becomes the overriding motto of the people involved in the transport business in the capital, people can hardly expect that city’s mass transport will see any noticeable improvement. These businessmen import low quality motor engines and build bodies of buses locally with cheap materials and rob the commuters in the name of seating or gate-lock services by charging double or treble fares. And this practice is going on for years with little efforts from the relevant government agencies to change the scenario.

Never in the past commuters in Dhaka saw any serious effort to stop plying of these dangerously old or unfit vehicles on the capital’s thoroughfares. Bribery ruled the roost in the transport sector, and the greedy businesspeople easily made undue business at the expense of commuters and their comfort. Last time we saw how an attempt to stop illegal ‘seating service’ was aborted as transport workers and their leaders did not cooperate. The government was forced to backtrack since these elements intentionally increased passengers’ plights in commuting by overcrowding their vehicles with commuters or withdrawing their vehicles from the streets altogether.

And the owners of these unfit buses and transport workers finally won and the same scenario of plying of unfit vehicles and taking high fare from the commuters returned. The government rather unwillingly surrendered to transport owners and workers until the school and college students came onto the streets against the backdrop of killing of two of their fellow students by a speeding bus. Even in this case also the culprit driver tried to overtake other buses to get passengers, dangerously though. Money, not safety, also ruled the mind of the driver.

Now we see some seriousness among the relevant government people to change the city’s transport system. But if they really want to bring any meaningful change, they should listen to the experts in the field who advise to improve the city’s transport system with a vision. They have rightly pointed out that in the capital all the existing 8,000 ramshackle and worn-out public buses totally unfit for running should be replaced with high quality, standard and comfortable ones.

This can be done by making a comprehensive phase-out plan like the one that replaced thousands of two-stroke auto-rickshaws with CNG-run ones in 2003. Moreover, their suggestion of creating dedicated lanes for exclusive bus travel by implementing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is also very important for improving the city bus service. Controlling the use of private vehicles and expanding public transport fleet buses and double-deckers would reduce the traffic jams.