Thursday, June 13, 2024

BRTC in trouble with its AC passenger buses

Pvt operators put up resistance to their commercial operation
The Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) is in trouble with its 88 air-conditioned buses, imported recently from India under the latter’s $ 800 million line of credit (LoC), due to opposition from private bus operators to their economically viable commercial operation.
Officials said the revenue earning from the AC buses has been unsatisfactory since the corporation in now forced to press the same in the commercially lesser important routes because of the opposition from private bus owners having strong political backing.
They said since the launching of the AC bus services, the BRTC could hardly earn 40 per cent of the targeted revenue from each of the buses, on an average.
Sources said the state-owned corporation could run the AC buses during the last two Eid festivals on many important routes without much resistance because of the heavy rush of passengers. But, they said, Eid over the corporation was forced to withdraw the buses from most of those routes.
“Private bus operators on some routes have even threatened to suspend their services if the BRTC AC buses ply. In some areas, the operators have tried to cause damage to the BRTC vehicles,” said an official preferring not to be named.
Private bus operators have alleged that the BRTC buses do not follow its set guidelines in the matters of picking up passengers.
The BRTC buses usually leave for destinations with passengers boarding at their depots. But, the private bus owners have alleged, the BRTC buses have set up counters at many places outside the depots for picking up passengers.
Sources admitted the allegation as true saying that most BRTC buses, including the AC ones, have been leased to the private parties and the corporation does not have any control over their mode of operation.
The government imported the AC buses at a cost of Tk 5.6 million each from India as part of its plan to increase the BRTC’s fleet. As the 40-seated AC buses were manufactured by M/S Ashok Leyland, specially for the long routes, the BRTC initially planned to launch those on 42 routes. The BRTC fixed the routes based on its depot managers’ assessment of passengers’ need getting approval from the Ministry of Communications.
The AC buses pressed into long routes, initially, included Sylhet-Rangamati, Barisal-Rajshahi, Dhaka-Patuakhali via Barisal, Barisal-Kawrakandi-Mawa, Tungipara-Dhaka, Rangpur-Barisal-Kuakata and Chapainawabganj-Pabna-Kuakata routes.
Sources, however, said operation of AC buses in many of these routes was later suspended due to the private bus owners’ protest.
Soon after launching, AC bus services on routes linking Netrakona, Tangail and Jamalpur with other areas of the country were suspended due to private bus owners’ opposition.
The officials said the BRTC had tried to settle the issues with the private bus operators through the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of the districts concerned but failed. The DCs are chairmen of regional transport committees.
BRTC Chairman Jasim Uddin Ahmed admitted the suspension of AC bus services on some routes but said the Corporation has been running the AC buses on various routes on trial basis.
“Within a few days, we will sit to review the bus routes and make fresh decisions,” he said. As the AC bus services in many areas are yet to be popular, the BRTC is not being able to earn its targeted income from the buses
“People are yet to learn about the BRTC AC bus services in many areas. Several months will be needed to make people aware of any new service,” the BRTC Chairman told the FE.
It is also alleged that as the DCs are involved with route selection of private bus operators being the chairmen of the RTC, they also do not give enough efforts to influence the private operators to let the BRTC buses run in their respective areas.
Abdur Rahim Bokh Dudu, senior Vice President of the Road Transport Workers Federation, found many BRTC bus routes ‘very good’ for passengers but said there is a lack of initiative from the BRTC to make the local bus operators agreeable to the need for operating the buses without troubles.
Secretary General of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association Khandaker Enayetullah could not be reached for his comment despite several attempts.

-With The Financial Express input

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