It would have been prudent if the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) improved the standard of driving tests to contain the number of road accidents in the country. But we do not see any initiative to strengthen its own capacity to obtain that goal. Against this backdrop, we are surprised by the BRTA move to procure 700 vehicles to conduct driving tests.
Going to an authorised driving school is a prerequisite for sitting for a driving test in the developed countries. Those schools supply vehicles to be used during the tests. But according to the existing law in our country, a driver should bring a vehicle to sit for a driving test, which is not always possible. As a result, some quarters at BRTA started doing business centering rent of vehicles. It got so severe that the Anti-Corruption Comission had to conduct a drive against it as the BRTA could not rein in that business.
So, it is necessary to identify the loopholes of the existing system first and then take necessary steps. BRTA authorities do not seem to care much about fighting corruption at its offices and the BRTA-approved driving schools. Its capacity can be increased by making the existing system corruption free.
The BRTA has taken a rather impractical project of procuring 700 vehicles without stressing on the aforementioned strategies. Earlier, we heard of a good plan to create 600,000 efficient heavy-vehicle divers in the country. A recent programme in the secretariat discussed the necessity of procuring some vehicles for that training programme. But there was no mention of purchasing 700 vehicles in that programme. Experts rather supported the prime minister’s principal secretary’s suggestion to collect the necessary vehicles from transport pool of different government offices.
Different government authorities are outlaying block allocation to the officials for purchasing their own vehicles nowadays so that the government does not have to bear the maintenance cost. But how could BRTA officials think of purchasing such huge number of vehicles! Misuse, wastage of money and maintenance cost would make the project a white elephant. They do not seem to have considered those realities.
After Prothom Alo published a news in this regard on 12 June, the BRTA chairman, however, hinted that the decision to procure the vehicles was only at its early stages. They are thinking of an alternative to do outsourcing. According to experts, this project should be cancelled.