According to officials of BRTA, vehicle owners and drivers from every part of Dhaka have started to gather around BRTA’s offices and filing applications, with an increase in the number of applications every day
After the enactment of the new Road Transport Act, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has been experiencing a mad rush of vehicle owners and drivers gathering around the BRTA premises to acquire new licenses, registration and fitness certificates to avoid fines.
According to officials of BRTA, vehicle owners and drivers from every part of Dhaka have started to gather around BRTA’s offices and filing applications, with an increase in the number of applications every day.
Many are even failing to submit their applications due to the huge crowd.
During a visit to the Mirpur BRTA office on Tuesday morning, Dhaka Tribune saw a mad rush of drivers and vehicle owners inside the BTRA compound.
Drivers and vehicle owners started gathering at BTRA as Road Transport and Highways Division enacted the new law from November 1 this year.
The Road Transport Act, 2018 replaces the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1983.
After multiple years in the making, the draft Road Transport Act was approved by the Cabinet Division on August 6, 2018, following the nationwide student protest that took off on July 29, 2018 after two college students were killed by a speeding bus.
According to the new law, a driving licence will contain 12 points. A driver will lose one point for each offence. A driver’s licence will be cancelled if they lose all 12 points for committing offences like not using a seat belt, using mobile phones while driving, driving on the wrong side of the road and racing, reckless driving and misbehaving with passengers, and parking vehicles at wrong places.
Under the Road Transport Act, 2018, the maximum fine for traffic violations is as much as Tk5 lakh, and the minimum fine is Tk5,000.
When contacted, Mohammad Ali Ahsan Milon, assistant director (driving license) of BRTA Mirpur circle, told Dhaka Tribune over the phone that they have received more than 800 new applications for licenses every day after the introduction of the new law.
He said: “Before the new law was enacted, we received around 300-350 applications. An extra volume of applications mount huge pressure on us, but we are trying to make the process easy with existing employees.”
Vehicle owners gathering around the BTRA premise to renew their vehicles' fitness permits, road permits and vehicle registration have only added to the increased workload.
He said that they are providing services to around 10,000 customers now whereas normally, they are used to providing services to 4,000-5,000 people.
"Even BTRA officials were bound to work extra hours after regular office hours," said Milon.
"Currently, the BTRA Mirpur circle has two fitness checking machines and to ease the pressure, BRTA is working to set up another 12 fitness checking machines in Mirpur," he added.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Iqbal Hossian, who came to Mirpur from Shantinagar in order to get his license, said that he bought a new motor cycle but he has no driving license.
He said: “I have no intentions of getting fined or being imprisoned. The amount of the new fines are huge and I cannot afford it, so that’s why I need a driving license before taking it out on the street.”
The middlemen are the beneficiaries
The middlemen around BRTA offices are passing a busy time taking full advantage of the mad rush. Brokers have been gathering around the BTRA premises and adjacent areas and are asking people whether they require help.
During the visit to Mirpur circle office of BTRA, it was seen that a number of people were roaming around the queues and asking people.
A broker told this reporter that he can arrange easy passage for customers if they pay him Tk1,000.
He said: “No one has to stand in lines to submit their applications. Motorcycle owners need to pay Tk12,073 for a two-year registration. I can complete the whole process within an hour if you give me Tk15,000 and you do not need to stand in a line.”
Even though brokers are crowding around the BTRA office area, law enforcement agencies seem to be very strict to prevent them.
Wahed Mia, camp platoon commander of Ansar in Mirpur BRTA, said that they nabbed 14 brokers in the last three days.
He claimed that they are aware about the brokers and are trying to ease people’s sufferings