A countrywide crackdown on 'Unfit Vehicles' with all its good intentions has drawn mixed reactions from commuters and experts amid a big question if it could ensure road safety.
The drive led by Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) entered its third day on Wednesday, forcing hundreds of buses, cabs and cars operating in un-roadworthy conditions off public eyes.
The BRTA authorities filed at least 2,249 cases and fined over Tk 16 lakh unfit vehicles with fake licence and un-licensed drivers across the country on the first two days of the drive.
According to BRTA, the number of registered vehicles is 21, 05,140 in the country. About 33 per cent of the vehicles have no fitness certificate.
On Wednesday, to add a new dimension to the drive, which most city dwellers welcomed despite reservations over its ultimate success, Minister of Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader was seen handing out leaflets to commuters and vehicle operators in the capital, urging greater awareness among them for road safety and saving lives.
During distribution of leaflets, the Minister also said that from next time there will be sudden drives against unfit vehicles at any time, any place.
"This is an amazing scene," one commuter said as the minister delivered leaflet to him. Residents in Dhaka, a city of 15 million people having roads crammed with thousands of unfit and worn-out vehicles, described the action as a positive development.
However, they doubted it would achieve ultimate goals because most of the BRTA officials are allegedly corrupt and they allow unlicensed or unfit vehicles to operate for a kick-back.
"This is an open secret. This illegal business has thrived over the years and there is a possibly that none would crack down on them (dishonest BRTA officials)," said a retired government official who owns a sedan car.
Also, it is widely alleged that BRTA officials simply do not bother to de-license or discard very old and virtually unusable vehicles - and issue road permit or fitness certificates by charging 500 to 1000 taka fine - that usually goes to the pocket of the inspectors.
BRTA officials, however, deny the "wholesale" allegation, though they admit there may be some cases of illegal transaction.
Talking to The Daily Observer several commuters on Wednesday said that the BRTA drive to nab unfit vehicles could be more successful if the traffic managers and regulators would act more decisively and dedicate to service to people better.
The major problem with city traffic is that hundreds of buses that ply the streets cannot be really forced out considering inadequacy in transport facilities. "If the buses are taken off the roads city dwellers will suffer most - as many would have to walk to work taking agonisingly long time on the way," a BRTA official said.
"We are looking for a win-win solution which is not very easy," said the official requesting not to be named.
Besides, some city people expressed their dismay that the ongoing drive against unfit vehicles would end on November 16. "Rather a drive like this should prolong throughout the year," said Rony, a private university student. "Otherwise, unfit vehicles will run on roads and highway again exposing travellers to life-staking risk," he said.
On Wednesday, mobile court was seen operating in the capital's Banglamotor and Kalabagan areas and also at Chaourasta in Gazipur.