Sunday, January 27, 2013

Transport vehicle owners' syndicate

Dhaka-Khulna route is busy with numerous bus companies along with local routes, Satkhira-Benapol routes added double amount of buses few years ago. 3-4 old bus transport companies like Eagle, Sohag, Hanif exist since the beginning; their vehicle quality was good once but now below average. New companies including Talukdar, Alom brought newer models of vehicles facilitating added flexibility, better frame & quick schedule.
While passengers had to struggle to place their legs in old bus models, now they enjoy enough room to position. It’s due to new bus architecture.

But the problem is universal; all bus companies ally a nasty syndicate. You can never expect a business in Bangladesh without syndicate. If one tends to stand alone, others will give their lives to ruin it.

The bus carried me & my fellow riders were an ancient  model of Eagle bus. Its condition was so ugly & old that we never dared to expect a good journey. While changing tires, driver confessed to the passengers that he never faced such situation where people wanted to beat him. He unfolded further stating that the former driver [who should have driven the bus as per schedule] requested him to drive it saying that the bus condition is good. He claimed that if he knew the true condition of the bus, he would never agree to such stupid requests.

When the former driver drove the bus to Jessore terminal, found that the perish glasses are broken due to jerk. He soon realized & abandoned bus to our driver. On request, he took it, but soon began to repent for his decision. The bus is already expired, its validity age is over, now it’s time to recycle or demote to local area.

At this moment, I had 2 questionnaires:
1. Why don't they recycle bus as they make a lot of money from these vehicles?
2. Why BRTC allows such buses to carry passengers?

I got the replies immediately. The owners don't recycle or repair it for some reasons. First one is bus companies don't own these buses, they have less than 30% of total buses. Rest 70% buses are taken from small to mid level owners. So, they simply don't care to repair.
And these individual owners are poorly treated by the companies. They pay the owners very tiny amount compared to real income.
Let's break down the issue:
A trip from Khulna to Dhaka earns about 16,000 BDT on average. Fuel, toll & party wages cost about 7-8,000 and employee fee covers rest 2,000 BDT. Net profit is about 6,000 BDT while owner is paid only 1,000-1,500 BDT per trip. The rest is swallowed by bus company. Thus, an individual owner gets around 45,000 BDT. Its not enough for them to see any real profit after paying bank mortgages. Thus, they simply deny repairing any troubled bus.

Second reason is very clear, every single person learns it since birth. If any charge comes upon you, simply put some money in their hands and you are free from any sort charges.

That's how buses work for route transitions. A good quality bus runs for 10-15 years. After that they are used occasionally for more 5-10 years without repair. And they are sold out to local routes after expiry. Individual owners prefer to sell at low cost instead repair at high price.

Therefore, passengers had to travel often on these ugly vehicles. You can't guarantee if can get a good bus. May be you purchased a bus ticket with high price and thought that you can travel in comfort, but all on a sudden your expectations may be stubbed by an ugly bus.

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