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TIB projects serious corruption in bus transport sector

Staff Reporter:
The private bus transport sector is under the control of powerful bus owner-worker associations and syndicates, often with ties to the ruling political party that extends to the extent that even governmental authorities appear powerless against their influence, according to a new research of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
The anti-corruption organization stated this while releasing its research study ‘Integrity in Private Bus Transport Business’ at a press conference on Tuesday.
To overcome the challenges in the sector, TIB presented a 15-point charter of recommendations.
The TIB research report shows that control of the transport business by the ruling party members and its patronized quarter is at the centre of rampant corruption and irregularities in the bus transport sector, reads a press release.
Most of the leaders of the owners’ associations in the sector are associated with the ruling party. The 22 companies (13.1 percent of the total number of companies), included in TIB’s study, own 81.4 percent of the bus transport business. Almost 92 per cent members of the board of directors of these large bus companies are directly affiliated with the ruling party (80 percent) and other politi-cal parties (12 percent). They have monopolized authority in the owners’ and workers’ associations alongside creating impediments in law formulation and implementation by capturing policy mech-anisms, thus taking the sector hostage.
Mentioning political patronage and role of syndicates as the root causes of irregularities and cor-ruption in the bus transport sector, TIB Executive Director (ED) Dr. Iftekharuzzaman said, “The private bus transport business is entirely plagued by irregularities and corruption. Its root cause is the collusion between bus owners’ and workers’ associations, empowered by political patronage.”
“According to our research, almost 92 percent of the bus owners are associated with political par-ties, of whom 80 per cent are from the ruling political party and 12 percent are from other parties. As a result, despite expectations centering the transport sector that it would become a public-friendly one, in reality, it has been held hostage by the owners’ and workers’ associations, and their syndicate is taking undue advantage of this hostage situation. The hostage situation is so se-vere that the owners and workers, due to their collision, seem more powerful than the government. The government is failing in implementing its own laws and regulations to control corruption and irregularities in the private bus transport sector. Also, the expected services cannot be ensured, and at the same time, general workers in the sector are being deprived of their basic rights including a fair wage,” he added.
Criticizing the role of the stakeholders associated with the transport sector, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman added, “Extortion and illegal transactions of various dimensions take place in bus transport. The city corporations, highway police, and owners’ and workers’ associations work in collusion in this regard. The BRTA has definitely failed to discharge its specified duties, and to mask the failures the agency is giving the excuse of manpower shortage. The corruption and irregularities alongside illicit transactions in the BRTA are taking place in collusion. The situation is becoming more criti-cal, as all the concerned are sharing the economic benefit, made through corruption. We call for exemplary punitive measures against everyone involved in corruption and irregularities in this sec-tor. Because, corruption thrives further when it is uncontrolled.”

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