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Commuters pay thru nose for fare anarchy

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Published : 09 Nov 2021 09:52 PM | Updated : 10 Nov 2021 01:28 PM

Millions of people commuting daily in the capital and elsewhere in the country are going through fare anarchy in public transport. Demanding additional fare on the plea of ‘seating service’ has almost become a common phenomenon. 

No public transport in the city is running with the fare fixed by the government. Most of the transports are justifying this anarchy under various pretexts like ‘Seating’, ‘special seating’ and ‘Gate Lock’ and others. 

Besides, different bus transport associations also appoint their own people at some points across the routes for realizing extra fares. Whether it is diesel- run or CNG- run, bus fare remains the same whereas the authorities concerned said the new fare will not be applicable to CNG- run bus. 

Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association said only 1 percent to 2 percent of vehicles on the road are now CNG-powered. However, the BRTA said that there is no specific information on the number of vehicles running on oil and gas. 

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has warned that strict action will be taken if additional fares are collected in the meantime after the announcement of fare adjustment on Tuesday. He said, “Everyone, including the road transport owners, had promised to ply their vehicles at the fixed fare.If additional fare is taken, action will be taken.” He also directed to run mobile courts all over the country to alleviate the sufferings of passengers.

As per the rules laid down by the government, the fare of a big bus plying in the capital is Tk 1.70 per kilometer (km) . But when a passenger rides a so- called ‘seating bus’ they have to pay at least Tk 10 as exra fare. 

For example, from Nabisco to Mirpur the distance is 8 kms, and the fare as per the government order is Tk 13.60, but a passenger had to pay at least Tk 20.  

However, the previous fare for long-distance public transport (in 2013) was Tk 1.42 per kilometer. At present, it has been refixed at Tk 1.80, for metropolitan bus new fare fixed at Tk 2.15 and for minibus it is Tk 2.05 per km. 

Under the very nose of the authorities bus owners are taking fare at their whims. 

BRTA director (Road Safety) Sheikh Mohammad Mahbub-e-Rabbani told Bangladesh Post, “We are conducting regular mobile courts in different parts of the capital. Immediate action is being taken against anybody found violating the rule. 

According to Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh (PWAB) a survey, the organization claims that 98 percent of the buses and minibuses in the city are involved in fare anarchy. There is no such thing as ‘Seating Service’ anywhere in the road transport policy or rules.  In the name of seating service there is no chance to collect extra fare. 

Acknowledging the issue, Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association’s General Secretary Khandaker Enayet Ullah said, “The term ‘Seating Service’ is not anywhere in the BRTA policy.  Demanding extra fare is totally illegal. On December 1, we are going to inaugurate first phase of ‘Bus Route Franchise Piloting’ from Ghatarchar to Kachpur. This will certainly help us reduce the seating service anarchy on the road.” 

Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) implementing the ‘Bus Route Franchise Piloting’ is finally going to launch 120 buses on the first phase from Ghatarchar to Kachpur this December. 

DTCA deputy transport planner Dhruba Alam told Bangladesh Post, “Earlier due to the pandemic, the start of the first phase is delayed. This time we are hopeful that we will do this on time.” 

When asked about the route fare, he replied, “Before plying buses on the road, a final meeting will take place where the fare will be finalized.”   

PWAB secretary general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury told Bangladesh Post, “Rise in fuel prices will create more unstable situations on the road. This will make the passengers’ purse empty while bus owners will get richer. In times of the pandemic, an additional price hike will be a burden for them.” 

The Road Transport Act provides for one month imprisonment and a maximum fine of Tk 10,000 or both for collecting extra fare.

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