Friday, June 14, 2024

Service-seekers face hassle at BRTA

Withdrawal of 200 volunteers worsens situation
Suffering of service-seekers at Mirpur BRTA has multiplied after the recent withdrawal of around 200 yellow-jersey volunteers, who used to assist 30 officials and staff at the understaffed office.
Officials at the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) said work is now piling up every day as they can do only 25 percent of a day’s work at the Mirpur office where 75 automobile and about 100 motorbike owners seek vehicle registration and 750 vehicles come for fitness tests on an average day, apart from other service seekers.
Talking to The Daily Star, a number of service seekers at BRTA said one could have got the required service there if that person came early in the morning and gave a tremendous amount of effort. But now it sometimes takes four days to get something done.
“I went to BRTA on four consecutive days to get my sister’s car registered and finally I got it done on the fourth day. On the first two days I just went from counters to counters to know the process,” said a service seeker.
“As I found long queue at every counter, it took me sometimes an hour to be the first in line at the counter and get the official’s counsel. On the third day I managed to reach a staff, who helped me fill up the necessary papers. I had to give him some ‘tip’ in return,” the person said.
The volunteers used help people advising them on how to get things done at the BRTA in return for tips.
During the last caretaker government’s rule, the authorities introduced the 200 yellow-jersey outsiders at BRTA allowing them to aid officials and staff of the severely understaffed organisation.
The 200 volunteers did not get any salary. They survived mainly on “tips” from service seekers. But there are allegations that they had sometimes realised money from service seekers putting them under pressure.
Car owner Altaf Hossain could not get his turn at a counter on the second consecutive day, January 12. He stood in line from early morning till 3:00pm for two days but the counter closed before he reached it. He required his car to be tested for roadworthiness.
Mirpur BRTA sources said only 18 people run around 12 counters where about 1,200 service seekers queue up every day and a good number of them return without receiving any service.
A high official there said around 750 fitness cases, 120 licence issuing, 150 licence renewals, 125 learner’s licence issuing, 70 road-permit issuing and renewals, 175 vehicle registrations, and 80 ownership changes used to be dealt with earlier. But now due to manpower crisis around 400 people can receive their services.
At least five to seven staff is needed to smoothly run each of the licence, fitness, registration and ownership-change counters but now they are having to do with just one person at each counter. This is causing resentment among service seekers.
Sources say the BRTA has an organogram of 291 people, stationed across the country.
A high-ranking official at the BRTA said the government approved a new organogram with 573 positions for BRTA around six months ago but steps are yet to be made for recruiting the new manpower.
In this situation, the BRTA has to run some of its counters with class-IV employees, who are not qualified for or entitled to do such jobs.
The official said BRTA authorities did not pay the 200 volunteers but allowed them to take tips from service seekers. They misused the opportunity and forced service seekers to pay them money.
BRTA Director Tapan Kumar Sarker said, “We wrote to the ministry concerned about engaging some people on no-work-no-payment basis as recruitment was taking time. We are yet to hear from the ministry.”

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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