Bangladesh Road Transport Authority is a powerful institution. No vehicle can take to the roads in the country without the seal of approval of this government authority. But reality is that there are huge numbers of vehicles plying the roads without any required permission. Even BRTA probably has no idea of how many vehicles are moving freely without the necessary certificates.

In a report submitted to the High Court on Wednesday, however, the authority did assert that 479,320 vehicles registered with BRTA did not have any fitness certificates. That means, legally speaking, these vehicles were not fit for the roads and highways.

BRTA normally does not come up with such facts and figures on its own accord. It was following a report in the Daily Star that the High Court issued orders in this regard and BRTA came up with its response. Its response mentioned how many vehicles hadn’t renewed their fitness certificates. There was no record of how many vehicles had never taken fitness certificates in the first place.

The question is, how can over 475,000 vehicles be moving on the streets without fitness certificates? During the High Court hearing, the BRTA legal counsel said if vehicles without fitness certificates are prohibited from the streets or are seized, then BRTA cannot collect revenue from these vehicles. Such a stance of BRTA is not credible. One cannot expect discipline on the roads if vehicles without fitness are allowed to move simply for the sake of revenue. Research has shown that unfit vehicles are one of the main reasons behind the frequent fatal road accidents.

Another question is, when a vehicle is issued a fitness certificate or its fitness certificate is renewed, is it actually fit for the roads and highways? Is just a fresh coat of paint enough for a car to be ‘fit’?

There are numerous allegations against BRTA resorting to corruption when issuing all sorts of certificates. The matter needs to be investigated. Legal action needs to be taken against the officials who issue or renew fitness certificates for unfit vehicles.

How many drivers are there without licences or without renewed licences? In reply to the court’s question in this regard on Wednesday, the BRTA lawyer said, “I cannot give you the figure right at this moment. However, there are 3,371,000 driving licences in the country.”

There are many allegations against BRTA concerning driving licences. Thousands of persons are issued licences without having the driving test. Alongside corruption, there is political influence too. All this must be checked.

BRTA’s management must be improved. But this will not be possible unless it has accountability. There are no signs of accountability within BRTA. This must be ensured.