It is high time buses were brought under a common umbrella
With something in the neighbourhood of 2,500 bus owners, 4,500 passenger buses, and nearly 300 routes across the city, the bus system in Dhaka defies all logic. Back in 2015, the late Annisul Huq, as mayor of DNCC, came up with a sound plan to impose order upon this chaos. It is good to see that the plan is finally being put into motion, with sights set on April 1 as the pilot starting date.
Under the franchise system, instead of numerous buses operating on the same route, there will be 42 routes for 22 companies, with nine clusters. As the franchise system will, at least initially, use ordinary buses, there should be no immediate need to hike up the fares, and as transportation specialist Dr Shamsul Hoque has pointed out, chaos may ensue if high fares are suddenly introduced. Of course, the whole point of this program is to impose order, not to create more problems, so it would be sensible for the authorities to move forward one step at a time.
It is high time buses were brought under a common umbrella, doing away with the somewhat irrational competition system. A strong central authority is needed, however, to monitor and regulate the entire process. Bus owners and operators are notorious for disregarding the rules, both internally as well as the rules of the road. This culture needs to change, and under the franchise system, this seems more possible.
The traffic in our capital city is the bane of existence for most residents, and a large part of the problem lies in poor planning. Buses have long been among the main culprits. It is high time they were brought in line, for the betterment of life in the city.