BRTC’s Profitable Business
06 October 2021 21:31:10
06 October 2021 21:38:16
The news that the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has become a profitable entity after suffering losses for decades is worth celebrating. However, behind the celebration, a sense of unease persists for several reasons. First, the image of the autonomous society that people easily refer to is its bus service which, unfortunately, is not responsible for generating profit for it. It was the newly acquired fleet of 500 trucks that made the miracle possible. Imported from India as part of its third line of credit, these trucks have been busy transporting goods across the country, even during the pandemic, since their launch in 2019-2020. No wonder that until August of this year they made a net profit of Tk 157 million (Tk 789 million against an expenditure of Tk 632 million). This is how the addition of the freight transport service seems to have breathed new life into the transport company.
What has turned out to be a commercial success is the business acumen that has made it possible to enter into agreements with various state entities to offer the BRTC truck services. Under the agreements it has made with the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation, the Karnaphuli Paper Mill, the Bangladesh Army, Fenchuganj Fertilizer and the Department of Disaster Management, BRTC trucks are available for transporting their goods. . Of course, other agencies and state bodies will be encouraged to use BRTC trucks. If well managed, the fleet can expand further and make much more profit. To give an extra boost, an addition of covered vans to its freight transport fleet should be seriously considered. If qualified drivers are recruited to drive the trucks, the service will be in high demand for understandable reasons.
However, given past experiences of widespread abuse, embezzlement and corruption within the company, a lingering fear will continue to haunt if the happy days continue. There was no reason for the Volvo or the Ashok Leyland double-decker buses to leave the road so soon. Plus, the articulated buses turned out to be a total failure — all because they were deliberately thwarted. The buses were not at fault. If the private bus companies can make big profits and add new buses with the profits made, why has the BRTC had to suffer relentless losses? The Minister of Road Transport and Bridges, ObaidulQuader, once expressed his reluctance over the BRTC losses and asked a similar question.
It is time that BRTC buses, instead of pinning them to the ground on some pretext or another, were operated efficiently and commercially like trucks. In neighboring West Bengal, public buses are so well maintained and run efficiently that the public prefers them to buses run by private companies. There is no reason why this should not be the case here too. Last but not least, truck service can be better used to help farmers transport perishable food from farms to urban centers where demand is high. Thus, farmers will not be forced to sell their products at disposable prices and at the same time consumers on their side will not be forced to count excruciating prices for them.