Road Race for Passengers: Bus owners offer solution

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Asianbangla, Dhaka : To stop buses racing on city streets, Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association yesterday decided to abolish the system of daily contracts with drivers and their helpers.

Many bus owners rent out their vehicles to drivers on daily contracts. In this system, drivers pay a specific amount to the owner and to maximise profits, they drive recklessly to make as many trips as possible in a day, said Khondaker Enayet Ullah, general secretary of the association, a platform of Dhaka-based transport owners.

He said the number of accidents is on the rise as drivers race on the streets and drive recklessly.

“Vehicles of no company can operate under contract system from tomorrow [Thursday]. If anyone does so, legal action, including [recommendation for] cancellation of registration of the company, would be taken,” he said at a press briefing after a meeting of the association at its Motijheel office yesterday.

The decision came after eight days of fierce students’ demonstrations demanding safe roads. The protests began when two college students were killed on Airport Road on July 29. A bus racing with another had run them over that day.

“On several occasions, we, from meetings, asked bus owners [to stop the contract system] but many bus owners still rent out their buses on contract basis … From tomorrow, if any company uses contracts, we will recommend cancellation of its registration and we will cancel the membership of the company,” he said.

From now on, drivers and other employees of buses would be salaried, he said, adding that they would monitor the matter and enforce the decision strictly.

“Information from different media outlets and our assessment show that contract system is responsible for road accidents,” he said.

The investigation of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), into the crash that killed the two college students, identified two buses competing and reckless driving as reasons for the accident.

OTHER DECISIONS
Enayet said representatives of the owners and workers would check documents of buses at Mohakhali and Saidabad bus terminals from today and no vehicles would be allowed on streets without valid documents.

All rundown buses in the city would be refurbished before September 30, he said, adding that they were reinforcing their support to the initiative taken by late Dhaka North City Corporation mayor Annisul Huq.

Annisul wanted to get all city buses under a handful of companies to bring discipline in the city transport sector.

Enayet said after Annisul’s death, the initiative lost momentum.

People crossing the road dodging vehicles before the zebra crossing was painted there yesterday. Photo: Prabir Das
BODY ACCEPTS DRAFT ACT
Enayet said bus owners and workers in Dhaka supported the draft of the Road Transport Act-2018, which got cabinet approval on Monday.

“This is a time befitting law. It has been enacted in line with ground reality,” he said, adding, “The law has many positive sides. However, in many cases, the amount of fine for owners has been increased. We will send our proposal for changes if necessary.”

Two leaders of transport workers — Shahidullah Sadhu and Karam Ali — supported the act at the press briefing.

Asked about allegations that the proposed act was soft on vehicle owners, as it holds only drivers responsible for casualties, Enayet said the draft was in no way soft on owners; rather the punishment for them has been increased in many cases.

The association’s President Abul Kalam, Senior Vice-President Hasan Imam, Organising Secretary Mahbubur Rahman, and Office Secretary Samdani Khandaker were also present at the briefing.

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