Jatiya Party lawmaker Mujibul Haque Chunnu on Sunday raised the question in the Jatiya Sangsad whether there is collusion with the government for not taking action against bus owners for road accidents.
Chunnu, general secretary of the party, also vented anger on his own party colleague Mashiur Rahman Ranga – who happens to be the president of the Bus Owners' Association of Bangladesh.
"He [Ranga] sits next to me. I will tell him to be kind to people. Why doesn't the government look at the old and reckless vehicles that have no brakes and no paint? Are you hurting the people in any conspiracy with the government," Chunnu questioned Ranga.
Describing recent road mishaps and loss of lives, Chunnu said, "The government has done a lot of development, but we have not seen a proper transport policy and a management in the capital. Most of the buses that run in Dhaka city are old. They neither have any licence nor obey traffic law."
Addressing Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, the lawmaker said, "I think the minister has done a lot including the Padma Bridge. But you totally failed regarding public transport. As many as 24 lakh driving licences are stuck with the system, traffic congestion continues crippling Dhaka and the city does not have adequate public buses for people."
Ranga later expressed surprise at the speech of Chunnu. "I do not understand why he talks like that. At least, he could have informed me earlier before attacking me publicly."
Ranga said income of the public buses in Dhaka has reduced a lot thanks to the increasing traffic jams.
He also challenged Chunnu on whether the buses have licence and fitness. "We cannot make sweeping comments. There are law enforcement agencies and BRTA [Bangladesh Road Transport Authority] for regulating public transport."
"But I will not say there is no deviation at all. Some drivers sometimes drive the vehicles recklessly. We have nothing to do about it since we are just the owners, we do not drive those."
Ranga, however, said owners are responsible for vehicle fitness. "I think there are some issues that will be fixed once the construction of the metro rail and flyovers are done," he said.
"This is the pain of development that we now endure. We have some transport issues and we have to accept it," he added.
Apart from public transport, Jatiya Party lawmaker Chunnu expressed concern over spiralling rates of essential commodities.
Referring to the information minister, he said, "The minister claimed two-three days that I lied about commodity prices. But why would I do that? I am not a businessman, instead I have to buy things for daily consumption."