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Dhaka Tribune

Time extended for new paint on old buses

  • Bus owners given a deadline of May 31
  • Experts suggest a scientific transformation of the sector to bring about systematic changes
  • Only dent-paint work won’t solve the problem, they say
Update : 05 May 2024, 10:30 AM

Rickety buses are not only dangerous for commuters but also quite damaging to the environment. They also look ugly on the city streets. Therefore, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has requested  bus owners to repair and bring the buses to a better condition to operate them on Dhaka streets. The BRTA has given the bus owners a deadline of May 31 in this regard.

Earlier, the authorities had said these buses will not be allowed on the streets after Eid-ul-Fitr—which was observed on April 11. Experts suggest a scientific transformation of the sector to bring about systematic changes. They say only dent-paint work won’t solve the problem.  

On May 2, BRTA published a circular saying these old buses are damaging the beauty of the capital. According to Section 25 of the Road Transport Act 2018, it is a punishable offense to drive unfit, dangerous, and discolored vehicles on the road. 

Earlier, on April 2, the authorities in a meeting with the bus owners decided that rickety buses won’t be allowed on the city streets after April 11. BRTA Chairman Noor Mohammad Majumdar presided over the meeting.

However, even after Eid, these buses are seen plying the city streets. Bus owners say that painting buses is an ongoing process. For now, the buses in worse condition will be painted and repaired. The rest will also be painted in phases.

At the April 2 meeting, the bus owners said that there is a need for 7,000 buses to serve the total population in the capital. But currently, there are only 4000 buses operating in the city.

Md Shahjahan, managing director of Shikor Paribahan, said that if all the buses are painted at once, there will be a public transport crisis. 

“We have asked for two months. We are operating the buses in phases. In the first phase, we have started repairing 18 buses out of our fleet of 68 buses. Of these, 17 have been repaired already. After getting them on the road, we sent 10 more buses for repair,” he added.

Meanwhile, industry insiders said that the buses are painted and repaired before the fitness test. Once they get the fitness certificate, the condition of the buses are ignored by the owners. The only consideration of the owners after getting the certificate is their revenue. 

An owner of Bihango Paribahan, who did not want to be named, said: "I don't know what the company wants. But we, as common bus owners, want a system where there is no extortion on the roads and everything is maintained systematically. And the syndicate that has been created to control the prices of the parts should be dissolved.”

Meanwhile, the bus drivers cannot guarantee how long the new paint job will last. When asked, they said that they drive buses in rotation. Therefore, it is difficult to hold a driver responsible for the condition of one bus. 

They said they compete against each other on the streets because their income depends on the number of trips. This is where the buses get damaged the most, they said. At the same time, the drivers who manage to attract more passengers will be able to pay the daily rent to the bus owners. According to them, there is no alternative to this unhealthy competition on the streets. 

When asked what the solution is, a bus driver named Sharif said: "There should be a system. Currently, there is no system in the transport sector. This is the case about our employment as well. There is no regulation on the roads either. What can we do if those who are responsible for amending the rules do not pay heed to the problems?”

Md. Hadiuzzaman, professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), said: “Our road management should be scientific, it is not just a matter of a paint job. We have seen time and time again that if the buses are painted, they don't last even for six months. This is because of the competition between the buses. As a result of this competition, buses tend to overtake one another and get damaged.”

According to this expert, painting old buses is just a waste of money. 

He said the buses are kept in the shed for a week in the name of dent-paint or repair. This way the bus owners are also affected financially. Therefore, the BRTA and bus owners must take the initiative to bring about discipline in transport management. Only then will the paint of the buses last long.

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