Wednesday, November 22, 2017

HC halts tender to appoint operators for five India-Bangladesh bus routes

  • Staff Correspondent
    Published: 2017-09-13 20:11:50 BdST


The High Court has frozen for a month a tender process to appoint bus operators for two years on five routes connecting Bangladesh and India.

The vacation bench of Justice Md Rezaul Haque and Justice Mohammad Ullah passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by the Jatri Kalyan Samity (Passengers’ Welfare Association) on Wednesday.

Md Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, Secretary General of the association, said bus operators including government-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation or BRTC charges passengers Tk 1,700-Tk 2,000 on Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka route.

As per the conditions of the protocol agreed by two state governments, the rate should be $11 or around Tk 920 for the route including breakfast.

“This adversely affects around 8,000 passengers who regularly take the route,” said Mozammel.

Operators are charging customers on a whim on four other routes which are Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala, Dhaka-Khulna-Kolkata-Dhaka, Dhaka-Agartala-Dhaka and Dhaka-Sylhet-Shillong-Guwahati-Dhaka, he added.

On Jul 4, the operators floated a tender in Bangla Daily Jugantor inviting bids to appoint operators on the five routes.

Jatri Kalyan Samity asked the government on Jul 13 to fix rates of bus fare for the routes citing its fear that the tender may worsen the ongoing irregularities.

But it never got “a proper response” from the government and thus filed a writ petition, said Mozammel.

After a primary hearing on the petition, the High Court issued a rule on Jul 23 asking authorities why the tender notice should not be declared illegal. 

It also ordered the BRTC to settle the application that Jatri Kalyan Samity made, asking it to stop “charging passengers extra and violating the conditions of international bus route protocol”.

Lawyer for the petitioner Barrister ABM Altaf Hossain, said, complying with the HC order, the BRTC issued a letter to Mozammel Hoque on Aug 2 regarding settlement of the application.

But on Aug 30, BRTC’s tender opening committee held a meeting and asked the bidders to arrive at the Motijheel depot with two buses.

Mozammel then filed another writ petition as the tender process was being taken forward.

“The court has halted the process for a month as the circular for tender was published in violation of Section 15 of the Public Procurement Act,” said Barrister Altaf.