According to the information of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the number of registered motor vehicles in the country is 2.9 million and the number of licensed drivers is 1.9 million. The official figures of the deficit of drivers is 1 million. There is no answer to the question of who are driving such a huge number of vehicles? According to transport sector officials, unlicensed and fake licensed drivers are filling the gap, meaning they are running these 1 million vehicles.
Out of the licensed 1.9 million drivers, only 1.3 million drivers have taken their smart card driving licenses till March 29 this year. The rest of them have not taken their smartcards yet, one reason being that many of them have left the profession. The number of professional drivers with smartcards combining men and women are 0.7 million. In around 3 million vehicles, apart from private car, jeep and motorcycle, the rest are used for commercial transport and commodity transport. The number of such vehicles is 0.8 million. The number of cars is more than the number of drivers. A large part of 0.3 million private cars are run by a professional and licensed drivers. It is feared that the driver's deficits will be increasing in future compared to the growing number of transports. The number of heavy vehicle is 191,076, according to BRTA. BRTA deputy director Masud Alam said that bus, truck, tanker, and cargo Prime Mover and Trailer were considered heavy vehicles. The number of buses registered as heavy vehicles is 40,935. There are 124,171 trucks in the country. Number of covered vans is 21,354 and that of registered Prime Mover and Trailer is 5,103. Road Transport Association's secretary general Khandaker Enayet Ullah said that each heavy vehicle needs at least two drivers. As a result, a total of about 382,152 drivers are needed for 191,076 heavy vehicles. But the number of licensed drivers for heavy vehicles are only 238,721. So in this regard the drivers’ deficit is about 143,431.
Deputy general manager (Operations) of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), Rafiqul Islam Talukder, said that the BRTC did not get the suitable drivers for its buses even after giving recruitment ads thrice. The reason is lack of drivers with valid licenses. Rafiqul Islam said the BRTC needs 3,000 drivers for their 2,500 buses but only it has only 1,600 of them in its payroll. It is not enough to blame transport workers in case of issuing license, alleged senior vice president of Road Transport Workers Federation Abdur Rahim Box Dudu. The reality is that there is not enough initiative to create skilled drivers. There are also errors in the license issuing process. Many people do not get a license even after having 10 years of driving experience. There is a shortage of training centers for skilled drivers in the country. The number of BRTAapproved training centers is only 98. Of them, 17 are owned by BRTC, and the rest are private. BRTA chairman Moshiur Rahman said that they are working to train and create skilled drivers. Campaign to raise awareness is being carried out, he added.
While BRTA talks about various initiatives, the shortage of drivers in case of small vehicles is the biggest. Many of the motorcycles and the three-wheelers are running without licensed drivers in a way. The number of registered motorcycles is 1.8 million. But only 0.6 million drivers have been issued license. That means about 1.1 million motorcycles are running without authorized drivers. The same also goes for the three wheelers. Registered threewheeled cars are 257,939, whereas the number of licensed drivers is 46,673. Based on his organization’s report, Passenger Welfare Association’s general secretary Muzammal Haque Chowdhury said that there are more than 1.4 million unregistered three-wheelers, including Easybike, and Nachhiman- Kariman-Bhatbhati across the country. They are running without any regards for rules and regulations. These unregistered vehicles are running without a license.