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Staff Correspondent/ Mahadi Hasan Badhon

In a bid to bring discipline in the city’s public transportation and reduce traffic congestion, the government is going to launch about 600 Circular bus services by April to June this year.

Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon made the revelation after completing third stakeholders meeting of a committee formed for bus route rationalization and operating public transport under six companies at Nagar Bhaban.

Mayor Sayeed Khokon, also the convener of the committee said, “We are waiting to receive some 600 buses from Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), imported recently. Of those, 450 buses including AC, Non-AC, and double-deckers will ply Dhaka city. Those buses will give service circularly in Dhanmondi, Motijheel and Uttara areas.”

He said that the administrative/operational work of those bus services would be completed from mid-April to June.

Sayeed Khokon said, “We do not have sufficient number of drivers. Apart from this, some drivers have no license; some are not skilful at all. So we will provide them training.”

In order to train the drivers in the least possible time under a project, we will conduct another meeting with BRTA training institute, said Khokon.

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam, Joint convener of the committee said, “Launching ‘Dhaka Chaka’ bus service was a successful initiative. If we can introduce this bus service in all the areas of the city, there will be no traffic congestion.”

“We hope the new buses will help bring discipline to the city’s public transportation as well as reduce traffic jams. Besides, we will introduce smart card with those upcoming buses,” said Atiqul.

Apart from 450 buses, six tourist buses will also be introduced in Dhaka metropolitan area, three for DSCC and three for DNCC.

About tourist bus, Atiqul Islam said, “We are going to introduce six tourist buses in DSCC and DNCC areas by the middle of April.

“When we go abroad, we see these kinds of tourist buses. Dhaka is a touristic city. If those tourist buses operate, people will travel freely,” he said.

‘We will not change the discipline on our roads, continuing for 30 years, overnight. I hope that our initiative will bring discipline in the city’s transportation system.

Earlier, the authorities of the special committee decided in their second meeting that they will not give permission for any new bus route in the capital.

If there is a special need, Regional Transport Committee (RTC) for Dhaka metro, the authority to issue route permits, can inform the special committee.

When contacted, Secretary General of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Authority, Enayet Ullah, another member of the committee, told Bangladesh Post, “We are hopeful about committee decision that transport will be brought under a franchise as soon as possible to restore discipline in the transportation system.”

About new buses he said, “As the drivers of new buses will be trained from BRTA, it will be safer for the passengers.”

On September 9 last year, the government formed the committee for rationalising bus routes, bringing all public buses under a fixed number of companies and bringing public transports under discipline.

The committee — comprising representatives of government bodies, police, transport owners, workers and an expert — was asked to work on the issue and coordinate it considering the steps of late mayor Annisul Huq, who envisioned the initiative.

Annisul had taken the initiative to bring all buses in the capital under a few companies, each to be provided with permits for respective routes and made responsible for proper public transport management and minimising congestion.

The move lost pace after his death in late 2017. The issue came to the fore again after the student agitation for safe roads, following death of two college students in road accident in Dhaka on July 29 last year.

In the last six months, the committee has held three meetings.

According to RTC, which issues permission for new routes, currently, about 6,167 buses and 2,805 registered minibuses ply in some 366 approved routes in Dhaka and its adjacent areas.

RTC’s Anisur Rahman said about the decision to stop issuing new bus routes, “We have to set a standpoint. It’s not possible to start working if the authority continues to give permission for new routes.”