Sunday, June 16, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Govt starts uphill task of scrapping 40% rickety buses   

Bus, truck owners asked to come up with scrap plan by April 20

Update : 02 Apr 2024, 08:30 AM

The government issued a circular in May last year declaring the immediate decommissioning of all rickety public transports. The circular issued by the Road Transport and Highways Division had a clear directive of scrapping all buses and trucks that had been in service for over 20 and 25 years respectively.

But giving in to pressure from transport owners,, the government rescinded its circular just over two months into its issuance. 

As a result, a large fleet of ramshackle buses continued to hit Dhaka roads as elsewhere in the country, much to the sufferings of commuters, posing a danger to public health and safety. 

Now, over six months down the line, the government is again setting a time-bound old bus decommissioning program that makes citizens wonder whether the government will live up to its pledge this time.

The May 2023 circular came four years after the recommendation was originally made by Bangladesh’s national road safety body. It was found that buses, minibuses and trucks operating beyond an optimum level of service life, negatively contribute to air pollution and road accidents.

But thanks to the greater clout exercised by the transport owners, they resorted to writing letters to the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges voicing their appeals and so successfully had the government revoke its decision.

At a meeting on Sunday (March 31), Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury directed that 20-year old buses, which have exceeded their economic life, should be withdrawn from the city streets as a measure toward checking air pollution.

The meeting, attended by high government officials from various ministries and departments and representatives of transport associations, decided on a roadmap which specifies that the, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) will come up with a list of outdated buses plying in Dhaka city by April 8, following which the transport operators will provide a plan to withdraw the buses by April 20.

Minhaz Alam, a Dhaka resident who has to commute by rickety buses on a daily basis, expressing his skepticism about this renewed move, said, “We’ve been hearing about such a move for years but nothing improves as far as the city's bus services are concerned.” 

Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury, however, expressed his firm resolve to have the roads freed of ramshackle buses. He warned that there would be no compromise this time. 

Too many rickety buses

It remains a big question as to how this transformation is going to take place – as many have expressed concern that a withdrawal of old buses will lead to a vacuum with commuters suffering owing to a dearth of sufficient public transport systems.

The situation has turned grave owing to the authorities turning a blind eye to it for far too long, allowing too many rickety buses to continue operating on roads.  

According to statistics from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authorities’ (BRTA), over 40 percent of 81,847 buses and minibuses registered with the BRTA are aged more than 20 years, while 15% of a total of 202,772 trucks, covered vans and tank-lorries, are older than 25 years. 

In other words, if the government finally decides to go by the 20-year and 25-year economic life formula, some 33,174 buses and minibuses and 30,623 trucks have to be withdrawn from the roads.  

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