Transport operators defy govt fare chartsShahin Akhter
The government has seemingly failed to enforce the fare chart it prepared for different modes of public transport, including long-route and city buses, cabs and CNG-run autos.
Passengers said transport workers were forcing them to pay more than the fares fixed by the government-fixed fare, which often led to altercations between them. Transport owners said they would count loss if they follow the government-fixed fare chart.
‘It seems there is no authority on roads as buses and autos are charging passengers at whim,’ said Biplab Saha, a Dhaka University student.
Afroz Haque, a Dhanmondi resident, said that she had avoided hiring auto-rickshaws since 2012. ‘With my limited income, I can barely afford to hire a CNG-run auto even for two trips a month,’ she added.
During Eid or other festivals, bus operators demand excessive fares on long routes, alleged Moazzem Mia, a Chittagong resident.
On January 20, the government increased the long-route bus fares by seven per cent to adjust the cost of operation after raising the price of fuel oils on January 4.
But Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners’ Association came up with a new chart of fares on January 4 applicable for both 40-seat and 52-seat buses, while the fares of 52-seat buses usually are much lower than that of the 40-seat ones.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority director (engineering) Mohammad Saiful Hoque told New Age that he had sent the revised fare charts for only 52-seat long-route buses to different stakeholders on January 21.
‘There is no fare chart for the 40-seat buses,’ he added.
Bus operators, especially at the Gabtoli terminal, are charging passengers Tk 520 for a trip on Dhaka-Kushtia route, Tk 380 on Dhaka-Bogra route and Tk 590 on Dhaka-Rangpur route.
But, according to the BRTA chart, fare on Dhaka-Kushtia route is Tk 246.98, on Dhaka-Bogra route Tk 292.63 and on Dhaka-Rangpur route Tk 462.28.
BBTOA treasurer Kamal Hossain told New Age on Saturday that they had turned 52-seat buses into 40-seat ones for giving passengers a little comfort charging extra fares.
He said that they had submitted an application to the road transport authorities before Ramadan to fix fare rate for 40-seat buses but received no reply yet.
‘If we follow the fare rate fixed by the government for 52-seat buses, we will count losses,’ he claimed.
The government on September 18, 2011 increased the bus fare in Dhaka and Chittagong cities, and set the minimum fare at Tk 7 for buses and Tk 5 for minibuses in the capital.
Almost no buses and minibuses are following the minimum fare rate, not even the state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation.
Bus operators, including BRTC, Nisharga Transport, Malancha Transport, Maitree Transport, , Raja City Transport, Bengal Motors, Salsabil and New Vision (Pvt) Ltd, charge Tk 10 as minimum fare.
Falgun Transport and Taranga Plus are charging Tk 15, Bikalpa Paribahan charges Tk 14 and Winner Transport Co. Ltd charges Tk 12 as minimum fare.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association secretary general K Enayet Ullah said that they were counting losses after the government fixed the fare rates.
‘Traffic congestions, political violence and buses requisitioned by law enforcement agencies are also responsible for the losses we are incurring,’ he added.
According to the updated chart issued by the BRTA on September 18, 2011, Tk 25 will be charged for a trip up to 2 kilometres, Tk 7.64 for subsequent each kilometre, and Tk 1.30 per minute waiting charge for CNG-run auto-rickshaw.
Dhaka Metropolitan CNG Auto-rickshaw Business Owners’ Association president Mohammad Barkat Ullah Bhulu told New Age on Saturday that while updating the fare chart, the government did not increase the rate of daily deposit.
‘That is why we made it clear that we would not follow the government- fixed fare rate and the communications minister gave us an assurance that the fare would be adjusted again,’ he said.
In 2002, the government allowed several companies to run 11,260 cabs in the city, of which only 2,000 to 2,500 are currently operating.
The government, in 2010, formulated the Taxicab Service Guidelines while most of the cabs ignore the fare rate mentioned in the guideline.
BRTA assistant director (enforcement) Mohammad Enayet Hossain Montu told New Age on Thursday that they had only one executive magistrate in the country.
‘See the magistrate has to look over all kinds of irregularities on roads which is difficult for him,’ he added.
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