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Hatirjheel circular bus users hostage to whims

Published : 12 Nov 2022 09:39 PM

Although the circular bus service in Hatirjheel project area helps to diversify the traffic and makes daily commute of people of nearby areas a bit easier, passengers are generally unhappy about the charging of extra fares. 

The fixed fare in this route is more than twice the fare fixed by the government for other routes in the capital city. 

A contractor company named HR Transport has been allegedly holding the passengers hostage and collecting extra fare. The circular bus service was leased to HR Transport by government agency- Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK). 

It is alleged that RAJUK has been operating circular buses in Hatirjheel project area as per its own decision without paying any attention to the government rules and regulations. HR Transport runs its own buses and collects extra fare due to the manipulation of some unscrupulous officials of RAJUK. 

Commuters want an end to chaos in fare collection that has been continuing for several years in the Hatirjheel project area. “I live in Banasree. Often, I have to go to Tejgaon and Niketan. I have to pay too high a fare. Excess fare collection in the circular bus at Hatirjeel needs to stop,” said Harun Rashid, a resident of Block-J of Rampura Banasree in the capital. 

Talking to Bangladesh Post on Friday (November 11), many other residents of nearby areas of Hatirjheel, who regularly use the route, echoed the same as Harun. 

Abdullah-al- Roman, a resident of Mollabari area who works for bKash, said that public transport fares in Hatirjheel are not found 

anywhere else in Dhaka city. The fare of a circular bus in the Hatirjeel project area is very high. This needs to end. “We demand that the fare should be charged at the rate fixed by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) on other routes. Otherwise, we will launch a movement programme soon to press home our demand,” he said.

Minarussana Oshin, a resident of Block-H of Banasree, said that all ticketed buses take the fare of another place if they get off at one place. But the fare at Hatirjheel is much higher. It has to be stopped. 

Circular buses ply around the seven and a half km area around the reservoir at Hatirjheel project area. Thousands of passengers travel on this route every day. 

The BRTA fixed the fare in the context of an increase in the price of fuel, but the RAJUK or the HR Transport are not obeying the fare rate of the BRTA. On the contrary, the fare of the circular bus has increased after the latest decision of the BRTA. Passengers have to pay a lowest fare of Tk 20 when they get on Hatirjheel circular bus.  

Besides, the authorities of HR Transport are charging Tk 5 to 7 per kilometer for various stoppages. The minimum fare for a half kilometer area at Hatirjheel is Tk 15.

The passengers are helpless even if the fares are increased step by step at different times. BRTA authorities are playing a silent role in this regard.

The BRTA has not taken any action till now even though the passengers have been complaining about the increased fare. BRTA’s raid on fare control was never done in the Hatirjheel project area. 

Being helpless, common passengers are forced to travel at extra fares. However, the transport authorities concerned claim that Hatirjheel is a tourist area and circular buses are running as tourist buses. The BRTA has no involvement here. Everything goes under RAJUK’s supervision. 

When asked, Abdul Halim of HR Transport, did not agree to comment in this regard. 

However, commuters and locals claim that circular bus service is mostly used by commuters to commute to work. The number of tourists who come to visit Hatirjheel from different areas by bus is very low. People take a circular bus for daily work. Although there was AC in the bus earlier, the HR Transport authorities have been keeping the AC off for the last over two years. 

At least five of the commuters and locals recently filed complaints to the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, seeking an end to chaos in fare collection for circular buses at Hatirjheel project area.

One of the complainants is Al Amin Hossain, a resident of Rampura area and a journalist by profession. Talking to Bangladesh Post, he said that the collection of extra fare in the circular bus service at Hatirjheel project area must end.

When asked, Mohammad Hasanuzzaman, an assistant director of Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, said that five complaints regarding additional fare collection by circular buses in Hatirjheel project area are now pending. “We have conducted a hearing on the complaints. When asked about the related transport company’s opinion on the complaints and why they are charging fares higher than BRTA’s fixed fares in other routes, the company authorities said that they work under RAJUK and do it following approval from RAJUK,” he said.  

Talking to Bangladesh Post on Friday, he said, “We have written to RAJUK seeking their opinion. We will take the final decision on the complaints after receiving their feedback.”

However, ASM Raihanul Ferdous, superintendent engineer of RAJUK, avoided comment in this regard. 

People are reaching their destinations through Gulshan, Rampura, Kawran Bazar and Moghbazar areas by using the Hatirjheel circular bus service and water taxi around the reservoir to travel on this route. 

The lessee company of RAJUK is charging more than two and a half times the rate fixed by BRTA at the ticket counter. The fixed fare of BRTA is Tk 2.50 paise per kilometer per passenger and the minimum fare is fixed at Tk 10.

From the list drawn at the Hatirjheel circular bus counter, it is seen that the fare is Tk 40 to travel seven and a half kilometers from FDC junction and come back to FDC junction. The fare is more than Tk 5 per kilometer. The fare from Boubazar/Shooting Club to FDC intersection is Tk. 20. The distance of this road is 3 kilometers, so the fare is more than Tk 6 and a half per kilometer. From FDC junction to Badda 3.9 km, the fare is Tk 25. The fare for a 1.9 km Shooting Club from Boubazar road is Tk 20. Where the minimum rent fixed by the government is supposed to be Tk 10. Tk 25 is being taken for 3-km from Bouzazar to Rampura. The fare for 900 meters from Shooting Club to Badda is Tk 20. Badda to Rampura 230-meter circular bus fare is fixed at Tk 15. Tk 25 is being kept from the Shooting Club to Mohanagar Project. The same fare is being kept till FDC junction. 3.3 km from Rampura to FDC Tk 25. From Mahanagar Project to Madhubagh 650 meters is Tk 20. 

Two passengers of the route-- Tuku Tutul and Md Feroje Ahamed said that the distance from FDC junction to Bouazar is less than one kilometer. How the fare of this route is Tk 20. The new fare fixed by the government will be Tk 10. But they are now taking Tk 20. Hatirjheel circular bus service is holding people hostage as there are no other bus and BRTA activities on this route. No one dares to protest because of fear. Those who took lease are influential.

The circular bus service was introduced in the Hatirjheel project area just years after it was launched for people. The project was opened in 2013 to ease movement of the general people but there was no public transport on the roads inside Hatirjheel, although some unauthorised microbuses started plying to transport people from one place to another inside the project area. They were stopped after the media reported about the sufferings caused in adjacent areas.