Fitness

Fitness farce | The Daily Star

Killer truck gets fitness certificate without inspection while in impound; BRTA official suspended

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The onion-laden truck that mowed down three people in Mymensingh’s Trishal upazila on July 16 — including an eight-month pregnant woman who gave birth on the spot — got its fitness certificate while impounded at a police station two days later.

The vehicle got the clearance without any inspection, which violates section 20 of the Road Transport Act-2018 and relevant orders.

A dying woman giving birth at the scene of an accident created sensation across the country.

Police seized the truck on July 16 and arrested the driver, who had fled the scene, on July 19. The driver had no valid licence and the vehicle had no fitness clearance or tax token, law enforcers had said then.

It is mandatory to inspect the vehicle before issuing a fitness certificate, which inspector Nur Mohammad Toha of Narayanganj circle disregarded while certifying the truck bearing the number plate Dhaka Metro-Ta-20-3580.

“The matter was revealed in an internal investigation following media coverage on the accident,” said an official of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority on the condition of anonymity.

But this is not a standalone incident, according to BRTA officials.

And the lapse in the process came to the fore at a time when questions are being raised about the quality of the BRTA inspection itself — which is generally carried out manually — before giving the fitness clearance.

Unfit vehicles are considered a major reason behind road accidents, which saw a sharp rise in recent years and have become a serious cause for concern.

In 2021, 5,088 people were killed in 5,472 road crashes, up 29.86 percent and 30.34 percent respectively from a year earlier, according to the police.

Some brokers in collusion with a section of unscrupulous BRTA officials manage fitness clearance without even getting the vehicles to the BRTA offices concerned.

The Daily Star spoke with two people who get fitness certificates for their vehicles renewed with the service of brokers and without paying a visit to the BRTA office.

“It is a hassle to take my car to the BRTA office. So, I give Tk 3,000 to a broker and he manages the fitness clearance for me,” said one of the vehicle owners requesting not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

Although the number of vehicles has increased manifold in the last few years, the headcount of staffers, including vehicle inspectors, who play a major role in giving fitness clearance, has remained almost the same.

A low number of vehicles are tested at the Vehicle Inspection Centre at Dhaka’s Mirpur office, with the majority tested manually by inspectors.  At present, 120 inspectors are struggling to ensure fitness for tens of thousands of vehicles.

As a result, there are long queues of vehicles every day for fitness certificates.

“So, many car owners want to avoid the hassle through brokers,” said an official wishing not to be named.

In fiscal 2020-21, they checked the fitness of 6.75 lakh vehicles.

As of January, more than 5 lakh registered vehicles were on the road without a fitness certificate.

Contacted, BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said they have given strong directives upon all field offices not to give fitness certificates without inspecting vehicles at the BRTA office.

Even after the strong directive, Toha went ahead and signed off on the vehicle’s fitness without getting anywhere near it.

“So, we have taken immediate and stern action against him,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

He was suspended and closed at the BRTA headquarters, as per the order.

Recently, a vehicle inspector was suspended and departmental action was taken against two staffers of BRTA’s Circle office at Ekuria following the same allegation.

“We are trying our best to prevent such incident and already given a strong message to all officials said stern action would be taken if anyone found involved in such incident,” Mazumder added.

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