The country's public transport sector is in a mess. Mismanagement in this sector is one of the major reasons for such a high number of road accidents here. Also, this has contributed to slow movement of vehicles and suffering for the commuters.
Although the state-owned Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) is there, its businesses are controlled by private transport companies.
The role and significance of the private sector in an open economy system cannot be denied, but the government has to play its role, too.
It is unfortunate that the BRTC is far from meeting the expectation.
BRTC’s negligence in duty, mismanagement and lack of skills is very well known.
The issue has once again been highlighted in the media due to a comment of the road, transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader.
During a discussion with the corporation officials at the BRTC headquarter on Monday, the minister said BRTC buses were dirty, unattractive and not well maintained.
The colour of the vehicles was worn out and the body damaged while there was lack of fans and seats too.
These symbolise the condition of the state-owned institution. Mismanagement paired with a lack of skills and corruption are responsible for this. The minister clearly stated that corruption has become a constant system for the BRTC.
“Chairmen come and go. When they are appointed it's said that the new one was an honest person but soon there are strings of allegation,” he said adding, “the newly appointed ones too get involved in corruption and irregularities in collaboration with the depot managers.”
The latest allegation of corruption against the institution involves 600 buses bought from India. Defects were found even before the vehicles were added to the fleet. There were leaks on the roof while some lacked in technical specification. If there were holes in the roof of new buses, questions naturally arise whether they were actually new or not.
It’s natural to suspect that faulty old buses were painted and then handed over to the BRTC. Did the BRTC officials have the buses scrutinised by experts before receiving? The minister said irregularities on part of the BRTC officials involved in the purchasing process would be probed.
This is not the first time allegations over irregularities or corruption rose against BRTC officials.
The minister’s speech clearly stated that corruption had taken its roots in the corporation.
BRTC is under the road, transport and bridges ministry, so the minister cannot avoid his responsibility in preventing the problem.
Obaidul Quader said BRTC did not need the ones committing corruption, irregularity and misdeed, no matter how experienced they were.
This is to be noted that the minister threatened to sack the corrupted officials, but did not mention that it was a criminal offence for which there were provisions for trial and punishment.
As soon as allegations arise over any irregularity and corruption, it’s said that the matter would be probed, but no reports of trial or punishment follow.
This allows corruption to go unchecked and fester. The culprits have to be handed punishment while the staff's accountability has to be ensured to free BRTC of corruption.