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Govt drops move to hike sugar price

Published : Sunday, 25 February, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 291

The government has stepped back from its decision to hike the sugar price considering the arrival of the holy Ramadan and suffering of people.

The retail price of per kilogram (Kg) of sugar will be sold following the previous price at Taka 140, said an Industries Ministry media release.

Earlier in the morning, the Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industry Corporation (BSFIC) set the maximum retail price of the state-owned mills producing buses and creating skilled drivers. The people will get the facilities within a very short time.

Regarding leasing a huge number of buses, the head of the corporation said, "Most of the BRTC buses were old and unusable. Those are being renovated in the BRTC workshops and pressed into service in the city roads. Some of the buses were given on lease to different authorities as per the instruction of the higher authorities. We are working now to bring those buses back to the street during the leisure period, so that people can avail those."

"Once we could start plying those buses in the leisure period, the commuters will get relieved from the sufferings," Tazul Islam, also an Additional Secretary, said.

The Dhaka Nagar Paribahan was also launched as part of bus route rationalization initiative to lessen sufferings of the people regarding transport shortage and unabated fare hike. Nagar Paribahan started its pilot run on December 26 in 2021 with a fleet of 50 buses - 30 BRTC and 20 Transilva buses from Ghatarchar to Kanchpur, a 28-kilometre route on the outskirts of the capital.

To ensure it, e-ticketing system was introduced. Later in October 2022, a total of 100 more buses of Dhaka Nagar Paribahan had also been launched in two new routes. The buses, 50 each, were operated from Ghatarchar to Demra Staff Quarters and Ghatarchar to Kadamtoli routes.

As there was nobody to monitor the activities of the service, many transport workers started violating rules and regulations by frequently picking up and dropping passengers everywhere in addition to fixed bus stoppages.

They also started taking fare from the passengers illegally bypassing counter tickets or e-ticketing.

However, day by day the number of buses started decreasing though it was said that new buses would be added soon to meet the increasing demands of passengers. Finally, no one cares about the service now.

As a result, most of the people now depend on the conventional system to commute. Additional passengers than the actual capacity of the buses are being carried. Most people are travelling as standing passengers but pay additional fare than the government fixed rates for the trip.

It was learned that bus owners run their vehicles at will to make more profits. Some BRTC double-deckers always have to be repaired. As a result, only 50 per cent of the buses are always off the route.

Visiting several bus stoppages in Dhaka city including Mohammadpur, Dhanmondi, Tejgaon, Rampura, Badda, Kuril, and Uttara areas, it was found that passengers are badly facing the shortages of buses. Especially in the morning the office goers and students face the acute crisis of buses.

But, the people of Mirpur area have got relieved partially due to the Metrorail service. Most of the people of Uttara and Mirpur region intending to travel to Farmgate or Motijheel or to the southern part of the city, are using the modernized train service which started operation on December 2022.

Md Zohur Ahmed, a regular commuter of Mohammadpur to Motijheel route, told this correspondent, "Due to transport shortages, it is difficult to board buses during office hours from every counter. But, once you get on the bus, you can reach your destination in time. For this reason, many of us prefer the service."

He, however, claimed that many conductors of buses are picking up passengers here and there without tickets and charging additional fares from these passengers illegally.

"I have never seen any ticket checker on the route and drivers are taking the opportunity," he added.

Md Khalilur Rahman Sajal, Executive Director of the Voluntary Consumers Training and Awareness Society (VOCTA), said the government should reinstate the service comprising the BRTC and private buses as soon as possible, because it was giving satisfactory service to the commuters. It would help the commuters to get comfortable journey to their destinations.

"Its not the mandate of the BRTC to get profit only by leasing the buses procured with public funds. All BRTC buses must be plied on the roads for ensuring comfortable travel to the commuters and lessening sufferings of the people for transport shortage. Hope, the authority will take measures," he added.

The drivers and conductors said the Nagar Paribahan Service is now almost dysfunctional. No one cares to operate their buses on the routes. Most of the e-ticketing machines are now unusable. There are pressures from the commuters due to insufficient number of buses. So they are compelled to board additional passengers in the buses.

Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity Secretary General Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said passengers in all the roads are facing transport problems. But, the Nagar Paribahan Service is now not functioning. All roads must be brought under such services to lessen the sufferings of the people.

Though the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) had two teams to monitor and evaluate the service and submit reports every 15 days, those are now not functioning.

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