Arrears to be paid once revenue increases, believes transport secretary
A group of workers of state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), including drivers and staff, besieged the corporation's headquarters in Dhaka’s Motijheel, demanding payment of salaries and arrears.
On Monday morning, staff from 22 depots from across the country gathered near the headquarters and locked the main entrance to confine its chairman Farid Uddin Ahmed, who is attending his last working day at BRTC.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, the protesting workers said salaries and arrears of staff of the respective 22 deports remain unpaid for four months to 16 months, and demand these to be cleared before the present chairman ends his tenure.
The protesters also demanded reinstatement of drivers who were previously terminated from their jobs for allegedly demonstrating for the payment of their arrears.
BRTC high officials said they have been struggling to pay the employees as the new pay scale was implemented from 2016.
“With the new scale implementation, salary of the staffs doubled from Tk3.5crore to Tk7.5crore, at the same time the cost of vehicle maintenance also went up, but the fare of the buses has not been increased at all,” BRTC secretary Nur-E-Alom told the Dhaka Tribune.
The arrears continued to pile up as BTRC suffered heavy losses year after year.
The secretary expected that the problem will be solved as the revenue will go up when 1100 transports - 600 buses and 500 trucks - under the second Indian Line of Credit will be added to the fleet.
“New vehicles will be added to our fleet soon as the government has imported new vehicles for BRTC. Some of these vehicles have already been added to the fleet, and some are now under process,” he said.
“We have already received 300 buses, and when the rest will come, the revenue will rise and we may pay the staffs with the pending dues,” he added.
Regarding the demand for reinstating the jobs of terminated drivers, the secretary said it will be done within a day or two.
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the ministry is now digging deep into several allegations of irregularities in BRTC.
“The problems with salaries are not a large-scale issue, it is happening at one or two places. We are scrutinizing the issues and taking adequate measures,” he added.