- Hospitals take about five months for a dope test report
- Brokers can manage a report within days in exchange for money
- Brokers can even manage a report without a test
- BRTA blames DGHS for the problem
- DGHS fixed six hospitals for the dope test
- Drivers only go to one or two hospitals: DGHS
- Drivers losing jobs and facing police cases due to the delay
Unnecessary delay in getting a dope test report from the designated hospitals has made the procedure of obtaining or renewing a professional driving licence difficult, alleged drivers.
They said it takes about four to five months to get a date to get a dope test done at the hospitals. However, it is possible to get a date within two or three days by paying a certain amount of money to brokers.
Many drivers have been losing jobs and facing police harassment as they failed to renew their driving licences in time since the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) made negative dope reports mandatory from 30 January this year, they added.
However, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said that most drivers rush to only one or two hospitals from a list of six designated hospitals in the city, making it hard for them to conduct the tests within a short time.
In June this year, Md Jubaer, a bus driver in Dhaka, applied for the renewal of his professional driving licence to the BRTA office in Mirpur as it was supposed to expire next month.
After a full day of practical tests, he paid the licence fee of Tk1,580 to the designated bank the next day, collected an application form for Tk10 and submitted it by attaching the necessary documents.
"But my application was rejected and a BRTA official asked me to attach the dope test report. He referred me to the National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital. I did not know it was mandatory for getting a driving licence," Md Jubaer told The Business Standard.
He went to the hospital the very next day and got a date for the test in November.
"Even though there was no crowd for the test, they asked me to come about five months later. I asked why I had to wait so long for the test, but the responsible person did not reply," he added.
He has not got the driving licence yet even after doing the dope test in November.
"I did my dope test in November for Tk900 and resubmitted the application to the BRTA. The authorities then gave me a date, on 11 December, for the biometrics test."
He could not join work for five working days, which cost him around Tk5,000. Further, he had to spend an additional Tk1,000 as transport costs.
"As my driving licence expired in July, I have been facing difficulties on the road. Probably, it would take one or two more working days to get the licence in my hand," he added.
Md Monir Hossen, another bus driver, faced the same difficulties in obtaining a driving licence recently.
"I went to the National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital for the dope test in May. They gave me a date in October for the test," he said.
"In the first one or two months after the government made the test mandatory, drivers were given a date within a few weeks. But later, the time was extended to at least five months," he added.
Another driver, Habibur Rahman, alleged that some brokers in the hospitals can manage the date for dope tests much earlier in exchange of money.
"The hospital takes Tk900 for the test but if we pay a few times more to the brokers, they can manage a date in just two to three days. They can even manage a report without any test for between Tk6,000 and Tk10,000," he said.
The BRTA authorities blamed the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) for the problem.
Mahbub E Rabbani, director and spokesperson of the BRTA, said, "We wrote to the DGHS several times asking them to address this issue. But they failed to take any effective measures."
However, Sheikh Daud Adnan, deputy director (hospitals and clinics) of the DGHS, said that the directorate had not received any letter from the BRTA yet regarding the issue.
"We fixed six hospitals and institutions for the dope test for driving licences. But the licence seekers rush to only two or three hospitals mentioned on the list. This could be the reason for the delay," he added.
He suggested that drivers go to the National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre in Agargaon for the test. "The drivers will be served in this hospital without any other hassles they have alleged."
The DGHS has specified six hospitals in Dhaka city for the test. They are Dhaka Medical College Hospital, National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre, National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital, National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation and Kurmitola General Hospital.