The transport sector in Jashore is plagued with various irregularities.
More than 4,000 drivers in the district are driving without a licence. At the same time, around 5,000 public vehicles are operating illegally.
Accidents have also become common on the roads and highways of the district which has a total of 18 inter-district roads and highways passing through it.
In the last four years, 57 people were killed in 54 road accidents in Jashore.
According to the Jashore district office of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are 13,131 drivers in the district. Of them, 8,823 have driving licences, while the remaining 4,308 drive without licences.
Transport workers however claimed that they are not being able to obtain driving licences as there are various obstacles in the process.
"We all want to have a driving licence. But we have to face various hassles in getting a licenses. After applying and sitting for tests, we have to wait for over a year to get a driving licence in our hand,'' said Mortoja Hossain, general secretary to Jashore Zila Paribahan Sangstha Sramik Union.
The renewal of a driving licence is also a lengthy process, he claimed. "Do our workers have so much time or patience?" Mortoja exclaimed.
"For that reason, we have urged the government to ease the process of issuing licences," he added.
Asked about this issue, Kazi Md Mursalin, assistant director of the BRTA Jashore office, said, "The plastic smart cards come from abroad. There is no supply of these cards in Bangladesh. The cards have not been imported for the last six months. For that reason, the smart cards are not being provided to anyone except in cases of emergencies like going abroad."
He said the drivers are given a slip as a substitute to the driving licence. The administration will not fine the drivers who have slips.
According to BRTA Jashore office sources, a total of 13,131 vehicles including bus, minibus, truck, and tractors ply the Jashore roads.
Of them, 8,307 vehicles have route permits, while the remaining 4,824 are operating illegally.
Contacted, Ali Akbar, president of the Jashore Zila Bus Malik Samity (Jashore District Bus Owner's Association), said, "Owners of the unfit buses have been asked repeatedly to renew the route permit. But they are not paying heed to our call.
"We have told the bus owners to abide by the law of the land, and also warned them that we can do nothing if the administration seizes their illegal vehicles."
Asked why they call strikes when the administration seizes illegal vehicles, he said, "We do not call strikes. The workers call it of their own accord.
"The reality is that many owners have not renewed the licences of their vehicles for the last 10 to 15 years," he said adding, "The fines they have paid during this time have exceeded the prices of the vehicles. That is why the owners are not eager to get fitness certificates."
He however said they will try to take some measures in this regard.
BRTA Jashore office's Acting Director Kazi Mursalin said, "To get a route permit one must have a fit car. We have seen that the body and the engine numbers of the vehicles, which have no route permit, have been changed.
"The amount of fines has increased as the owners have defaulted on fines for many years. They are waiting to get rid of previous fines."
He added that car owners and workers call strikes irrationally whenever the BRTA launches a drive. "Considering the possible sufferings of the people, we cannot do much."
Sources at four police stations and outposts of Jashore highway police said as many as 36 accidents took place on Jashore-Benapole national highway from January 2016 to December 2018. The accidents claimed 35 lives and maimed 35 others.
Meanwhile, 18 people lost their lives in 14 accidents on Jashore-Khulna national highway from January 2017 to October 2019.
In the period between January 2017 and December 2018, three people died in three accidents that took place between Jashore town's Paulbari intersection and Haibatpur of Jashore-Jhenaidah national highway.
One was killed in an accident on the Jashore-Narail highway.
As many as 53 cases have been filed with Jashore's Navaron, Noapara, Tularampur and Jhenaidah's Barobazar highway police station regarding the matters.
Contacted, Sheikh Mahfuzar Rahman, inspector at Barobazar highway police station, said, "Drivers are mainly responsible for the road accidents. The drivers lose concentration after driving for hours, and in the process they cross permitted speed limits.
"As a result, the number of accidents increases. Defective cars are also one of the major reasons behind accident," he added.