Fatal road accidents caused by public transports continue to take place in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh as most drivers lack mandatory Public Service Vehicle permit for driving these transports.
Many of the public transport drivers even do not have valid driving licence at all.
Road safety experts blame lack of permit to drive public transports and proper driving licences and monitoring of regulatory authorities for reckless driving and accidents.
In Bangladesh, district-wise regional transport committees are responsible for issuing permits for driving public service vehicles, mainly buses and minibuses, to drivers having licence for heavy vehicles with highest skills and experiences, as per the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983, said officials.
The system is also largely followed in different countries, including the United Kingdom and Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states.
According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, there are 11,166 public service vehicle permits against 73,410 buses and minibuses and about 19 lakh driving licences, including about 1.38 lakh for heavy vehicle, against about 35 lakh registered vehicles as of July 31.
People queue up at Kamalapur Railway Station in Dhaka on Friday as local and long-route bus services were kept suspended. — New Age photo
Two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed and 12 others were injured as bus a Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan bus ploughed through a crowd of students in front of Kurmitola General Hospital on Airport Road on July 29 as three buses were allegedly in a race.
The driving licence of the bus driver was expired while another bus driver had no licence at all, said officials.
In April, six more accidents caused by reckless bus drivers claimed lives of Government Titumir College student Rajib Hossain after he lost the right forearm trapped between two racing buses and domestic help Rozina Akhter after a BRTC bus severed her right leg, crippled a mother of two Ayesha Khatun permanently, smashed the right leg of University of Development Alternative MBA student
Runi Akhter, severed left leg of car driver Md Rasel Sarkar and put a traffic police officer into cardiac disease smashing his left leg at Plassey in Dhaka.
A physician and a nursing student of Tayerunnisa Memorial Medical College Hospital were killed by racing buses on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Gazipur on July 12 and July 26 respectively.
Former Bangladesh Road Transport Authority chairman Ayubur Rahman Khan said that the drivers did not want to wait for long to get public service vehicle permit.
As a result many drivers drove public transports without proper permit, he added.
National Road Safety Council member professor Shamsul Hoque, also Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology professor, said that drivers did not want to take the permit as they were allowed to drive buses without having it.
‘Why BRTA is giving registration to buses and minibuses keeping huge gap between public transports and drivers having the public service vehicle permit,’ he asked.
As a regulatory authority, BRTA should increase the number of drivers having public service vehicle permit, he said, adding that allowing people to drive buses and minibuses without the permit caused reckless driving and fatal traffic accidents.
‘As a result now little children are taking over streets with the demand of safe road,’ the professor said.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority director (operation) Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas said that the number of issued public service vehicle permit was low because of reluctance by transport company owners and workers.
The owners should check the permit before appointing drivers to drive public buses and minibuses, he said.
He failed to say how many permit holders were now driving public buses in Dhaka.
According to the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, the permit is mandatory for driving ‘public service vehicles which are used or adapted to be used for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward, and includes a motor cab, contract carriage, express carriage, stage carriage and motor cab rickshaw.’
A driver having experience for at least six hours in driving can obtain a heavy vehicle licence and after that s/he needs another three years’ experience to apply for the permit to drive public service vehicles.