The Office Jatri service was conceived to cater for office commuters, but it never arrives on time, is usually overcrowded, and runs very slow using old buses
Three new bus services for Dhaka which were unveiled to celebrate the country’s move towards developing country status are in a state of disarray over three months after their intended date of launch.
State-owned Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) said it would begin running the services - named Usha, Uttara Circular, and Office Jatri – from March 26.
The Office Jatri service was conceived to cater for office commuters, but it never arrives on time, is usually overcrowded, and runs very slow using old buses.
The other two services are faring even worse. Contrary to the BRTC’s claim, the Usha service is running hours behind schedule, while a ruling Awami League party leader has reportedly prevented the start of the Uttara Circular service.
Launch passengers left high and dry
The BRTC had committed to providing ten buses for the Usha service, which was intended to collect launch passengers who land at Dhaka’s Sadarghat terminal early each morning, when finding other transportation can be difficult.
However, launch commuters who spoke to the Dhaka Tribune said they had not seen any evidence of the new service.
“I heard about a special BRTC bus service about two months ago, but I have never seen it,” Md Yousuf Ali, a night guard of Mayakatara market near Sadarghat, said.
Jewel Rana and Faisal Adnan, who regularly commute via launch, also said they had not come across any special BRTC bus service.
Although “Usha” is a Bangla word meaning “early morning”, two buses belonging to this service are only seen in the afternoon.
“Our buses leave our depot for Sadarghat at 6am every day,” BRTC Motijheel Bus depot Manager Ashraful Alam said. “I do not know why they are late.”
Alam said Usha was failing to collect passengers from in front of the launch terminal “due to some unavoidable reasons”.
“Our buses pick passengers from near Victoria Park (Bahadur Shah Park),” he said.
Some private bus services and a number of human haulers (small four-wheelers) are available at Sadarghat from late night onwards.
The Dhaka Tribune, however, did not see any BRTC Usha buses between 4:30am and 7:30am near the park, while a staff member at the BRTC AC bus ticket counter near the park said they knew nothing about the new service.
AL leader ‘impeding Uttara service’
The Uttara Circular Bus service was intended to operate in different sectors of Uttara, to the north of the capital.
However, Joar Sahara BRTC bus depot manager Mofiz Uddin said the new service has effectively been forced off the road.
“We had to suspend our operations because of stiff opposition from the owners of local human haulers that ply these roads,” he said. “They assaulted our staff and forced the passengers to get off.”
One of the owners of the human haulers is a local commissioner, who is also a leader of the ruling Awami League.
Mofiz said they had filed a case with police, but did not name anyone.
“The BRTC, City Corporation and police will jointly discuss the issue with the Uttara transport owners association soon,” he said. “I hope all issues relating to the bus service will be cleared.”