A large number of unfit vehicles are plying on the roads across the county including the capital without any fitness certificates, violating the rules and increasing the risks of road accidents.
Meanwhile, many unfit vehicles are getting fitness certificates by managing some dishonest officials of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), sources said.There are allegations that vehicle owners pay bribes to get fitness certificates even without taking their vehicles to designated BRTA office.
Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, secretary-general of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, said there are over 300,000 unfit vehicles in Dhaka.
“There are no fruitful initiatives to address this issue. The number of vehicles without fitness is increasing.”
However, there is no update info on the BRTA website about the number of unfit vehicles playing on the streets.
On July 24 last year, in a report submitted to the High Court, the authorities, however, asserted hat 479,320 vehicles registered with BRTA did not have any fitness certificates.
Despite having fitness certificates, many vehicles are actually not fit for plying on the roads. This is also partly because of the manpower crisis at BRTA.One inspector at the digital Vehicle Inspection Center (VIC) in BRTA Mirpur Circle has to examine the fitness of 100 vehicles - which is virtually impossible.
During BRTA’s road safety drive a few months ago, officials had to check the fitness of around 1,200 vehicles every day, which is practically impossible for the vehicle inspectors working at BRTA’s Mirpur office.
Even if it takes less than a minute to print a fitness paper, it would still take at least 20 hours to check those 1,200 vehicles. Dr. Moazzem Hossain, former Director of Accident Research Institute (ARI), said the whole process of giving a fitness certificate is impractical. Flaws in vehicles can easily be overlooked in the existing inspection process, he said.
The High Court recently directed the authorities concerned to form a task force across the country so that vehicles without fitness clearance and license cannot ply on the roads.
The court directed the secretaries of Road Transport and Highways Division, Public Administration and Home Affairs to take steps for forming the task force, headed by the Deputy Commissioner (DC).
Executive magistrate, police and representatives of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) will be members of the task force.
The HC also ordered not to provide fuel, including oil, gas and petrol, in any unfitness vehicle.
A BRTA report said that since the order of the High Court on October 23 last year and till December 30, of the 4 lakh vehicles were registered across the country around and 1.65 lakh vehicles had renewed fitness certificates. Also, fitness certificates were issued for 19,003 newly registered vehicles.
Despite all these efforts, vehicles without fitness are playing freely throughout the country including the capital.
Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity secretary-general said the manner in which a fitness certificate is issued in Mirpur, 10 per cent of the fitness is not properly validated. Around 90 per cent of these are private cars.
He said there are only four inspectors in Mirpur. They can examine a maximum of 80 cars a working day. But more vehicles are getting fitness certificates every day in exchange for money.
Abdur Razzak, deputy director (Enforcement) of the BRTA, said the digital Vehicle Inspection Center (VIC) in Mirpur has the capacity to carry out fitness tests in less time.
The VIC can test 15 vehicles in an hour or 120 vehicles a day, he said.
But in reality, several hundred vehicles are getting fitness certificates every day from Mirpur BRTA.
During a visit to BRTA Mirpur, brokers were found active in assisting vehicles owners to get fitness certificates in exchange for money.
But BRTA deputy director Abdur Razzak said irregularities have mostly been eliminated from BRTA offices. “Now there is no chance of getting a fitness certificate without bringing the vehicle.”
He, however, said as the fitness tests are done manually, it is not possible to completely rule out the possibility of irregularities.
He also said installing automatic machines in the future will help prevent such irregularities.