Saturday, June 22, 2024

Over 30,000 licences issued without proper tests: BRTA

The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority has issued 30,000 driving licences mostly to drivers of buses and trucks on ‘easy terms’ without holding proper tests since 2006.
The authorities in the period issued about three lakh driving licences, according to an affidavit submitted by the agency’s chairman Md Ayubur Rahman Khan to the High Court on November 28.
In the affidavit, Ayubur said that 30,611 licences had been issued on conditions laid out in a memorandum of understanding signed on August 20, 2003 between the communications ministry and the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Unity Council.
‘Thirty thousand, six hundred and eleven drivers succeeded in the test of competence but their tests were taken on relaxed conditions in keeping with the memorandum of understanding signed between the government and the Road Transport Workers’ Unity Council,’ the affidavit said.
It also said, ‘The driving competency test board requires medical certificates of physical fitness of drivers for the test, in the cases of licences given on easy terms, the board conducted the physical fitness,’ it added.
The affidavit also said that medical certificates of physical fitness were not taken for the renewal of driving licences. But now the agency started taking such certificates, it added.
‘Necessary measures will be taken to provide licences on easy terms through the testing board for drivers having certificates of skills issued by the president or general secretary of the workers’ unions concerned and attested by the central and regional
committee concerned of the Road Transport Workers Federation,’ said the memorandum annexed to the affidavit.
The shipping minister, Shajahan Khan, is also executive president of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation.
Another affidavit the BRTA chair submitted to the court on November 14 said that 10,000 licences were issued in 2009 on ‘easy conditions.’
‘A list of around 24,000 applications from the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers’ Federation was submitted to the BRTA for the issuance of licences… on relaxed conditions,’ he added.
In the November 14 affidavit, the chairman told the court that the road transport system could become ‘paralysed,’ causing a ‘total collapse’ to food and goods supply chain if it decided to cancel the tens of thousands of driving licences that the authority said had been given ‘on easy terms’ in violation of the normal legal process.
The bench of Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Md Nuruzzaman directed the Road Transport Authority to respond to a report published in August in the daily Prothom Alo that alleged that pressure from the shipping minister, Shajahan Khan, had resulted in the agency issuing 10,000 driving licences to road transport workers without ensuring that the legal requirement were met, and that similar requests had been made for 24,000 more licences.
The latest BRTA affidavit, which was a supplementary to the one submitted on November 14, also said that the agency had renewed 18,345 licences on ‘easy conditions’ in five years.
The affidavit also said that the agency had issued 3,01,610 licences — 18,8,57 for heavy and 14,338 for medium vehicles — in normal legal processes in the period.
The court posted for December 13 the hearing on the affidavit.
Earlier on August 25, the same court asked the agency to submit reports by November 29 on particulars and the number of driving licences issued in five years with remarks as to whether the applicants had successfully passed the tests, the number of licences renewed in five years with remarks as to whether they were found physically fit and capable of driving vehicles, the criteria used for the issuance and renewal of licences including holding of medical examinations as to fitness of the drivers as well as determination of the fitness of the vehicles and issuing the fitness certificates and the criteria used for the issuance of fitness certificates of vehicles and measures taken against the disqualified vehicles side by side measures against illegal or forged licence holders.
The court issued the directives after hearing a writ petition filed on August 17 by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association, Bangladesh Bar Council’s legal aid and human rights committee chairman ZI Khan, and Supreme Court lawyer Abantee Nurul in the wake of the death of filmmaker Tareque Masud and cameraman Mishuk Munier on August 13 and the death of 40 schoolchildren in a road accident at Mirsarai in Chittagong a month earlier.

-With New Age input

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