Fees first, service optional | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 19, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 19, 2020

Fees first, service optional

We demand account of money collected from us

If this was done by a private firm, charges of fraud or collection of money under false pretences would have been brought against them and, who knows, those responsible would have already been in jail. However, when it comes to the action of a government body and if its promises are never fulfilled—and if the money collected on the basis of those promises is not accounted for—then, nobody faces the wrath of the law.   

The case in point involves Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA). In 2012, it introduced what is popularly called Digital Number Plate with a promise that it would install an automatic tracking device, along with a new number plate, which would enable the relevant authority to track every car, round the clock, against theft. It would also permit them to determine which vehicle was to blame for road accidents, thereby assisting the law enforcement. It was hoped that if every driver knew that they were under the scanner of the law enforcement authorities, the overall safety of our roads would dramatically improve.

With this promise, payments were collected from each vehicle owner to the tune of Tk 560 crores in four years.

Well, the number plates came, so did the tracking devices, but the system was never put in place with the result that our cars, trucks, motorbikes and three wheelers remain just as unsafe as they were before this money was collected.

So what can we say other than that the public was duped? To top it all, the authorities never bothered to inform us what happened to the project, why it was not implemented and when, if ever, we can see it put into place. Equally important is the question: what happened to our money?

We thank the BRTA chairman for at least having the moral courage to admit that “people were not getting the service they expected.” However, his statement that the BRTA will “start looking for donors” to revive the plan is causing us to worry even more. Why do we need donors? Didn’t we already pay the money—and that, too, years ago—for this very purpose?

The above instance is a good example as to why people lose confidence in government institutions and why they feel cheated over and over again as promises are seldom fulfilled even after the public is forced to dish out money for those. We urge the ACC to look into the matter.

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