Call for all buses to be repaired, proper implementation of traffic laws and regulations
The government is responsible for an increase in passenger harassment and illegal fare hikes on public transport since nationwide Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed at the beginning of August, the Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samiti (BJKS) claimed at a meeting at the National Press Club on Monday.
Speakers demanded the immediate intervention of transport owners, trade unions, and the government to deal with the problems in the public transport sector, alleging that the problems only remained due to the unwillingness of the government to have them resolved.
The BJKS on Monday also observed Passenger Rights Day for the third time, demanding that the day be acknowledged nationally and internationally.
Representatives of BJKS claimed there were currently 21,000 buses for 1,800,000 people in Dhaka and the rest of the people used private cars as they did not wish to use “smelly, blotched, and broken buses when they can afford better.”
The government should take initiatives to repair the buses so that the entire world did not think that Bangladesh was a poor country when they looked at the public transport here, they added.
Gazi Moslem, owner of Victor Classic, said that the company could not provide proper services as the buses needed hours to move short distances due to severe traffic congestion caused by the high number of private cars and poorly designed traffic system.
Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, member of Bangladesh Editors Forum, said: “The government must solve the traffic problem but they are allowing the purchase of private cars too easily when it is the main cause of Dhaka’s traffic problem.”
Kefayet Shakil, convener of Jatri Odhikar Andolon, claimed police only fined motorbike riders but not the drivers of private cars.
Sharifuzzaman Sharif, a member of the advisory council of BJKS, said: "In Bangladesh, there is no rule of law. Instead, it is the law of the ruler.
“Chaos continues on the road just because the government does not want to solve it. You won’t find any country where the owners count fares through the checkpoint,” he added.
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Former caretaker government advisor Hossain Zillur Rahman, who attended the meeting virtually, said: "We need to ensure fair fares for the passengers, safety for female passengers, and the training of drivers and helpers."
He also highlighted the need for passenger shelters and streetlights.
Kazi Riazul Haque, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said: “We speak of road safety, but anarchy and human rights violation are continuing on the roads on a regular basis.”
He said that Bangladesh had the highest rate of anarchy on the roads, harassment, and risk among all countries in the world, and it was therefore the responsibility of the government to solve these problems.
Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, secretary general of BJKS, said: "Every month, Tk300 crore is being extorted on roads. According to the law, one has to pay only Tk2,000 for a license permit. In reality, one has to pay Tk10,000 in bribes."
Laws need to be implemented properly, he added.