Jatri Kalyan Samity calls for 5,000 new buses

Abu Sufian

Jatri Kalyan Samity has called for the introduction of 5,000 new buses in Dhaka city to overhaul the capital’s outdated and inefficient bus fleet. The passenger welfare platform also advocated for a nationwide implementation of smart bus service.

The buses could be operated under the management of the government or through public-private partnerships (PPP), the organisation’s General Secretary Md Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury  suggested at a press conference in Dhaka on Saturday. “While nearly Tk3 lakh crore has been spent on constructing metro rail and elevated expressways, only 35% of the capital’s commuters will benefit from these infrastructures,” he said. However, with an investment of just Tk3,000 crore in improved buses, 65% of passengers can enjoy the benefit.

“Despite improvements in the country’s transportation infrastructure, challenges persist in ensuring good governance, managing road congestion, and providing safe passenger services,” he added. Mozammel highlighted the countless working hours wasted in traffic jams and the chaos of overcharging and seating issues. Besides, city dwellers face significant air and dust pollution from these outdated buses.

He emphasised how passengers have become hostages to transport owners and workers, as several initiatives to improve public transport were unsuccessful. “Common people are not able to travel in these buses with dignity and respect.” Expressing concern, he said, “In all transportation-related decisions, the interests of owners and workers are being prioritised over the needs of the general public.” There are instances where a bus company, starting with one bus, has become the owner of 800 buses.

On the other hand, the state-run transport agency BRTC is facing challenges in operating buses and resorting to leasing them, as he pointed out. However, the BRTC could turn to profit if it is managed by experienced staff with technical knowledge in managing bus companies abroad. Citing a Japanese survey, he noted a significant opportunity in the bus business, with the capital witnessing four crore daily trips. “By addressing issues like extortion and introducing dedicated bus lanes, the city’s transportation landscape could be transformed overnight.” Mozammel also suggested decentralisation of administration to reduce population pressure on Dhaka, easing traffic congestion and crowding. “If Chattogram can be developed into a commercial city, some administrative offices can be moved there to ease pressure on Dhaka.”

Due to poor leadership, inefficient management, lack of monitoring, and the monopoly of politically powerful individuals, various development projects cost several times higher than in other countries.

He called upon the new government to uphold its political commitment to establish good governance by ensuring transparency and accountability in all transport infrastructure projects.

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