Checking Vehicle Fitness: Govt to hire pvt firm for first time



For the first time in the country, the government is going to hire a private company to check motor vehicles’ fitness with machines.

The move, aimed at improving road safety, comes when Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) is issuing the vital clearance mostly manually as it has only one digital machine for the job.

Now, Computer Network System (CNS) Limited will set up a 12-lane Vehicle Inspection Centre (VIC) at BRTA’s Mirpur office to test more than 400 vehicles every day.

The Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase yesterday approved a proposal, placed by the Road Transport and Highways Division, in this regard.

As per the proposal, CNS, which is now providing several services to the BRTA, will establish, operate and maintain the VIC for five years at a cost of Tk 105.23 crore.

The company will provide training to 200 BRTA staffers on the job and will hand over all equipment to the BRTA after the tenure’s end.

“We will sign a contract with the company as soon as we receive documents regarding the approval,” a top BRTA official told The Daily Star yesterday.

He said they hoped the company would be able to start its operation (checking vehicles’ fitness) within six months.

Asked about the capacity of the VIC, the official said it would check between 384 and 450 vehicles on each working day.

He said the machine would look into seven things of a vehicle, including brakes, headlights, alignment and emission, taking between 12 and 15 minutes.

WHY OUTSOURCING?

Established in 1987, BRTA deals with a myriad of tasks — from vehicle registration, issuance and renewal of driving licences, to fitness of vehicles and route permits for commercial vehicles.

But its services are being hampered due to a lack of adequate manpower and technology.

For example, only 109 motor vehicle inspectors, with the help of 86 mechanical assistants, checked the fitness of 7.5 lakh vehicles last fiscal year.

The inspectors are always under pressure and the quality of inspections is often compromised due to the work pressure. Moreover, the shortage of vehicle inspectors causes service seekers to wait a long time for fitness certificates.

The BRTA has only one VIC at its Mirpur office to check some elements digitally and some 100 commercial vehicles (bus and trucks) are tested there every day.

Other vehicles have to be checked manually, which experts said could compromise safety as it leaves room for manipulation and irregularities.

An automated system can get exact performance data of a vehicle’s key safety features like headlights, brakes, and speed capabilities, which is almost impossible to do manually, they said.

Amid huge scarcity of fitness testing facilities, the Road Transport and Highways Division in August last year formed a committee to work out how fitness tests could be outsourced to private companies.

A top BRTA official said CNS was selected for the job following competitive bidding.

A WAY FORWARD

Prof Mizanur Rahman, director of Accident Research Institute (ARI) at Buet, welcomed the BRTA’s move. “This is the way forward,” he said.

He said with the existing manpower and equipment, it is not possible for the BRTA to check all vehicles “properly”.

In many other countries, private sectors are entrusted with the duty of checking vehicles’ fitness and the entire process is monitored by the government authorities.

Mizanur, however, said the authorities have to check whether the private company overcharges or does anything to “create a monopoly in the business”.

Replying to a question, he said road safety was very much linked with fitness of vehicles, because an unfit vehicle is prone to road crash causing fatalities.

“So, the government should increase the facilities to ensure proper fitness of vehicles,” he told this correspondent yesterday.

BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said they have plans to set up more VICs so that fitness of more vehicles could be examined there.

“We will establish more VICs in Dhaka and divisional headquarters on our own. Besides, we have plans to outsource the job to private companies,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

 

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