We need to talk about public transport and the many travails commuters are compelled to go through.
We begin with the overall picture of the mass transport system in Bangladesh, which is not at all cheering. Rampant chaos in the sector is one of the leading causes of high road accidents in the country. Not only that, people's movement on roads has also slowed down in velocity, with untold sufferings being their regular companion. Even though there is a presence of the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) in the public transport sector, its business dominance lies in the hands of private transport companies. No one denies a wider role and importance of the private sector in a free market economy, but a significant role by the state sector is also expected simultaneously. Unfortunately, the BRTC has always been far removed from meeting those expectations.
Nevertheless, to what extent the prevalence of inefficiency, mismanagement and negligence of duties is widespread in this organization is actually very well known to all. The issue has once again come forward, thanks to a recent comment by Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader. During a meeting with BRTC officials at its head office on Monday last, the minister said the BRTC buses were unclean and not taken proper care of. The colors were gone, while the bodies resemble a shabby look of corrugated tin sheets. Apart from these, a number of seats were missing from each bus, while there were no fans inside the vehicles. The minister's words symbolically illustrate a complete picture of the state-run BRTC. The reason behind its miseries is undoubtedly a practice of mismanagement and systematic as well as systemic corruption. The minister's statement clearly states that corruption has become a permanent feature in the BRTC. He spewed his annoyance against the BRTC chairman and his colleagues over corruption allegations of various types.
This is not the first time the BRTC has been charged with irregularities and corruption. The BRTC is an agency under the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges. Therefore, if there are irregularities and corruption, the minister cannot avoid the responsibility of remedying it. On that particular day, the minister said those who commit irregularities, misdeeds and corruption are no longer needed in the BRTC. Significantly, the minister's statement threatens to dismiss corrupt officials from their jobs, but for sure it lacks a promise of bringing those under the legal procedure as they committed criminal offenses. As soon as allegations of irregularities and corruption arise, it is said that an investigation will be done. But the information relating to probes, trials or punishments is no longer found. As a result, the tendency to continue irregularities without fear of retribution or punishment has become a chronic disorder. The BRTC needs to be free from corruption and for that purpose, strict accountability and punishment of the corrupt must be ensured.
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