“There is no legal barrier for apps like Uber in our country, but there is the issue of using private vehicles for commercial purposes: it is not allowed here,” said ICT Secretary Shyam Sunder Sikder.
According to the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, vehicles registered for private use cannot be used commercially.
Regardless of the legal issue, Shyam sees Uber as a useful initiative that could lessen commuters’ suffering to a great extent.
“It will help regular commuters a lot,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Earlier in October, Road Transport and Bridges Division Secretary MAN Siddique told the Dhaka Tribune that Uber would only be able to run their serivice in Dhaka if it signed agreements with the existing taxi companies.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune last night, an insider in Uber Bangladesh said the company had signed deals with three taxi services in Dhaka – Toma Taxi Service, Trust Transport Services and Green Bangla Taxi Service – in order to run its operation in the city.
Among them, Toma and Trust are authorised by the government, but Green Bangla is not, the source said.
The Dhaka Tribune tried to contact the officials of Uber Bangladesh to verify this information, but could not reach them despite several attempts.
Meanwhile, Sawkat Ali, secretary at Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), said in order to allow Uber to run business in Bangladesh according to its global model, the government would have to change the draft Road Transport Act 2016.
“A provision will be required to be added to the draft act so that private vehicles, likely with a new type of licence or registration, are allowed for commercial use. But such a change can only be considered for public interest,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
It can be done easily as other countries have done it, said Buet Professor Shamsul Haque.
“A number of countries have added provisions in their transport law to use private cars as commercial vehicles in order to reduce sufferings of commuters,” he said.
“For example, when Uber wanted to launch in Singapore, the country’s transport law initially did not allow it. Later, the government changed the law and in order to make the initiation successful, it convinced the citizens that Uber would reduce their sufferings. Now, everybody is happily using Uber there,” he added.
ECAB Vice-President Rezwanul Haque Jami said: “A number of countries have already allowed the use of the Uber model. So why not Bangladesh? If the service brings discipline to the transport system and the public gets a hassle-free journey, it may also become popular in Dhaka as well.”