Road transport association leaders want to operate vehicles at full capacity

Leaders of road transport associations today demanded to be allowed to operate their vehicles at full capacity, saying that situation is getting back to normal gradually. They also said bus operators will start charging passengers previous fares if they are allowed to run buses at full capacity. The leaders made their proposals at a meeting Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) convened at its headquarters in the capital's Banani to discuss enforcement of health safety rules in public transport services.

The demand comes at a time when allegations of charging extra fare is rampant and the numbers of new infections and deaths from Covid-19 are still on the rise in the country. After the meeting, BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said they would send their proposal to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry, which would later send it to the Cabinet Division. Cabinet Division has taken the decision to operate public transport on a limited scale up to August 31, he said.

Public transport, including buses and minibuses, resumed operation on June 1 after more than two months. The government had suspended the services on March 26 to contain the spread of the virus. Following demands by transport leaders, the government hiked bus fares by 60 percent from June 1 on the condition that buses would carry passengers at half capacity and follow other health safety guidelines.

But complaints on breaching the conditions kept pouring in. Between July 22 and August 12, BRTA mobile courts filed 787 cases against more than 100 bus operators, mainly for violating health safety guidelines and charging passengers extra fares, said BRTA officials. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on several occasions had asked the authorities concerned to take action for charging passengers extra fares.

His ministry in June directed the BRTA to cancel registrations and route permits of those vehicles who violated health guidelines. But the situation did not improve much. Rather, it became worse since the Eid-ul-Azha holidays and the passengers are bearing the brunt of the situation, passengers and transport operators said.

Mashiur Rahman Ranga and Khondaker Enayet Ullah, president and secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association; Sadiqur Rahman Hiru and Osman Ali, senior vice president and general secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation, among others, were present at the meeting.

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