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The childhood is the stage when all our fantasies start to grow. That was the stage when a fantasy about motor bike grew up into my mind and I got interested in driving bike. As my fantasy supported me I started to fulfill my interest and started to learn driving. At that time my uncle who was experienced in this line; he started to teach me driving. After a few months my fantasies boosted up because I was learning a bit how to drive. After learning driving for about two years, my parents came to know the matter and thought that I was in a stage to have a driving license, since they heard that I was harassed in the roads many times by the police for not having a driving license while driving. As a result, my parents gave me the permission to have a driving license. So, I found out that there is an association responsible to delivering the driver’s license in Bangladesh, which is the Bangladesh Roads and Transport Association (BRTA). I went there to get the license, but later on I came to know that there are many problems which I have to face while getting the driving license. I took it as a challenge to overcome those problems and get the license in a legal way; since I was able to become a good driver within that time.
The other point that made me interest to take this topic was the sudden death of two of my closest friend in the road accident, which was as a shock in my life. Why only the accident of my two friends, there were 3,917 highway accidents in the year 2012 (“Ensure safety”). Many people argued that the road accidents occur because of the bad condition of the road, but most of the highways in Bangladesh are now treated as of standard quality highways. There are also some other people arguing that the road accidents occurs because of the unfit vehicles running on the road; but still a majority portion of the people agrees with me that most of the road accidents occur because of the inexperienced driver’s. Then a question came up in my mind that “Why are the drivers inexperienced?” I was able to solve this question and came up with the answer that since the driver’s are getting the license in an illegal way, so they are becoming inexperienced and becoming the cause of the accidents.
Later on another question came up in my mind, “Why the driver’s are getting the license in an illegal way, since there is a way to get the license in a legal way?” It was tough for me to solve this question, but when I went to BRTA to get my own driving license I found out that every person who goes there are harassed a lot, only if they wants to get the license in a legal way. Still, if someone wants to get the driving license in a legal way then he is forced to give bribes during the procedure. Then, my interest grew to find out the hazardous experience of the people while getting the driving license.
We all know that bribe plays a vital role in the Bangladesh society. So, it makes two ways to get the license; legal way and illegal way. In the legal way one has to pass the test required to get the license. There are mainly one written test and three practical tests. If someone even passes the test successfully, the officials over there will not make them pass until they get the money. During the process, if someone denies giving bribe, he will have to wait for at least 6 months to get the license. But, in the illegal way, just give the bribe and sit back in your home, the brokers will process the license and will give it after 3 months. The rate that they have fixed to get the license in an illegal way is Tk. 5,000/= per license.
Sometimes we will find many people around us, who are not ready to pay any illegal fees. So, first they prepare themselves to get the license in the legal way. But, after passing the written test when they go to give the practical test and sees that every thing is on the examiners hand, they gets scarred. Most of the time if someone passes the exam but refuses to give the minimum amount of money, then the examiner harasses the person and in a sense force him to fail. Then, those people who went there in an intention to get the license in a legal way loose their faith on them and agree to get the license in an illegal way.
“Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) is the only association in Bangladesh who is responsible for the promotion of road safety and traffic regulations, by delivering the license of the drivers and also by registering the vehicles in Bangladesh. BRTA was first institutionalized in 1987 and started its function from January 1988. BRTA is the regulatory body for the control and management of the road transport system and road safety related activities of the Republic of Bangladesh. BRTA maintains its function with total manpower of 291 through the head office in Dhaka, 19 circle and 20 zonal Offices spread all over the country” (Brta). All the zonal offices can deliver driving license, but to get the license one have to pass one written test, one oral test and three practical tests.
First of all one have to fill a form, requesting for getting a driving license, giving the adequate information about him, regarding his name, father’s name, age, sex, address, blood group, etc. After submitting the form one would get the “Learner’s License”. It will cost one Tk. 750. Actually getting the learner’s license means that one has got the permission to learn the driving. After getting the learner’s license one would get 3 months of duration to prepare himself. According to that date and time mentioned in the Learner’s License, one has to go and attend the written and oral test. The written and oral tests don’t take place except Thursday. The result will be published on that day and after that they will give a seal in the learner’s license and also provide the date and time of the practical exams. The entire practical exam will be held on one single day.
The first practical exam is known as the “Zig-Zag” test. The model is given below:
In this test one have to go with his car from A side to B side and again come back with his car in the reverse gear from side B to side A, without moving or touching the flags that will be there at each points of the line. The width on the two lines will be 1.5 times the wide of the car. If someone touches the flags, he will fail the exam. In that case, he have to resubmit the fees and appear the test again after getting the date and time approved by the BRTA.
The second test in known as the “Ramp” test. The model is given below:
In this test, one has to go driving the car on the slope. The examiner will be sitting beside him. While going up the slope the examiner will tell him to stop the car and the person have to stop the car at the slope. The examiner will again tell the person go to up the slope without letting the car go back. This is the hardest part of getting the license. Most of the people fail in this stage because while moving the car front, the car’s weight forces the car to go down the slope. Since, many people fail in this test, so the examiner tries to take the advantage of the bribe over here. The examiner tells that if he gets money, then he will make the person pass, or else he will fail him.
The third test is called the “Road Test”. During this test the examiner will be sitting beside the person and will be told to drive the car in the busy roads. This test is mainly taken to check whether the person knows the rules and regulation of the traffic system and also to drive safely. The examiner might say suddenly to park the car in the no parking zone. If one stops the car there that means that he doesn’t knows the rules and regulation and thus, he is going to fail in the exam.
If one passes the entire exam then only he is capable of getting the driving license in a legal way. But, the present situation of the BRTA supports that; one must have to give bribe to pass the exams. Many people think that just passing those exams doesn’t makes one an experienced driver. In that case, they concluded that knowing the driving is the main thing, it doesn’t matter that whether you got the license in a legal or illegal way. But, a majority of the people says that, if someone knows how to drive well then he will also be able to pass the exams of BRTA without giving the bribe and thus can get a license in a legal way.
Since, the driving license is being delivered by a Government institution people are to follow a lot of procedures in getting the driving license. From my research, I expect to find that the corruption in delivering license illegally and problems are faced by the driving license owners. I will try to find out the reasons why car owner’s doesn’t want to hire a driver who has an illegal license. I think that a person who is well-educated knows that there are many problems that the other drivers have to face if he hires that drivers, this is the most important reason why they don’t want to hire illegal license owner. From my opinion our license delivering system should be stricter.
Limitations of the Study:
There are some limitations of my research paper. They are pointed out below:
In my survey, I was unable to target those students who don’t have a driving license, because if they don’t have a driving license, how they are going to have an experience in getting the driving license. I had to stay between the age boundaries of 19-22. As my research topic states, my target group is the NSU students and most of them are from the age of 19-22. The major limitation of my research is that I was able to target especially those who had the driving license to drive the private cars only. The driving license is delivered actually for three categories of vehicles- light, medium and heavy. One who has got the license for the first (light) category will be able to apply for the second category (medium) after three years. To get the license of the heavy category one has to get another three years experience of driving the medium vehicles (Hossain).
Since, my age boundary is from 19-22. So, most of them have the license of the light category, which gives them the permission to drive only the private cars. I am not able to get any information from the officials of the BRTA, because they aren’t ready to talk with me about their situation, which is also another major limitation of my research paper. I think that they could have unveiled a lot of information, which could be of great use in my research paper. The last and also the most important limitations of my research paper is the time factor and the present situation of our country. I am not getting enough time to do my research thoroughly on this topic.
I have used the BRTA’s website; some posted articles in the Internet and the newspaper as my secondary sources, which were being used throughout the paper. For my primary research I have prepared a questionnaire and also have interviewed two people how have got bad experience in getting the driving license. The first person whom I interviewed is a regular student of NSU and the other person is a professional driver. Their interview helped me a lot in my research paper.
The questionnaire that I have prepared consists of 13 questions. I have given 40 people to fill up my questionnaire.
From Figure 1, we can see that 8 of them, which make 32% of my sample size, claimed that they have owned the license in a legal way. From the rest of the students, 13 (52%) of them said that they got the driving license in an illegal way and the rest 4 (16%) claimed that they have got the driving license through a driving school. But still, one student who have got the license through a driving school, said that he have passed all the exams of the BRTA to get the license, but for the rest three people, who are all female, said that they have got the driving license without appearing the tests. They made an agreement with the driving school, which states that after they have learned how to drive, the driving school will be responsible to deliver them the driving license and in exchange they will be giving a certain amount of money. So, after that I can see that only one person from the driving school have got the license in a legal way. From the rest of my sample, only 8 (32%) of them; who got the driving license in a legal way, have said that they have appeared and passed all the exams, without considering the case that they have failed in the exam and passed it again by giving bribe. Actually the people; especially the brokers, won’t let one pass the exam without giving the bribe. So, in a way those people who have been learning to drive for last 6 months and want to get the license in a legal way are forced to give bribe.
From Figure 2, we can see that 6 (67%) of the NSU students; who have got the license in a legal way, agreed with this statement, and told that they have been forced during the exams to give bribe, since everything is on the examiners hand, if he likes to pass one, he will make him pass, but if he wants to fail one, then that person will be harassed a lot until he fails. But, still 3 of the students were luck enough to contradict with me and claimed themselves to pass all the exams without giving the bribes. They also stated that they weren’t even forced during the exams to give bribes. The students who have got the license in an illegal way is not considered in this case because at the beginning when they decided to get the license, they took the illegal way to get the license, so they have given the bribe in the beginning and they don’t need to or forced to give the bribe again during the exams.
Since, the students have faced a bit of the hazardous experience, so I asked them again whether that was the ending of the harassment process or not. But, many of them answered no and said that getting the license was the starting of a new harassment process. They were then caught by the police and harassed without any reason. In most of the times police claimed that the licenses are illegal. Then the students have to come out from there by giving bribe, it doesn’t matter that whether you really got the license in a legal or illegal way. In some exceptional case I have found out that the police also said that the picture that they have in the driving license doesn’t matches with the students. I was really shocked to hear that how the police can claim those type of fake reasons to harass a people. I also came to know that a student was saying that he was in a hurry, because his mother was admitted in the hospital, but still the police didn’t tried to hear that and filed a case against him, fining him for driving faster.
After all the claims that the police stated, I asked them “What do you think about BRTA?” One can’t imagine about the response that I have got from this answer. I gave them five options. Within those the first option that I gave them was “They are all corrupted”. After, reading this option, most of them didn’t go to read the other options. From the figure 3, it is clearly stated that 20 of the students; which means 80%, thinks that BRTA is corrupted and we can’t do anything about it except going with the system. Within those 13 students, 7 of the students have faced the problems face to face by getting the license in a legal way and 13 of them knew earlier that BRTA is corrupted, so they have got the license in an illegal way. The other 2 of the students told that the existing system should be developed, which means that BRTA should not be privatized, since the corruption level hasn’t gone beyond the limit. But, the rest 3 of the student’s answer was quiet interesting; they all have got the license in an illegal, and think that BRTA’s corruption level has gone beyond our limit and that is the reason it should be privatized. None of the students told that the system is all right and they are operating in the way they should operate, which is quiet interesting.
Summary of Findings
From my primary research I was able to find out that the harassment process of getting the driving license doesn’t ends also after getting the driving license. The exam pattern is set in a way that will make the people harass. Most of them who have seen the exam pattern with their own eyes think that the existing exam pattern should be updated a bit, because it is designed in a way that will force the people to give bribe. One by knowing the BRTA’s license delivering system doesn’t likes to get the license in a legal way, because they know that they have to give the bribe by hook or by crook. So, most of them are targeting to get the license in an illegal way. It was found out that 80% of the driving license delivered by the BRTA is forged. (Hossain). So, it is clear that because of the harassment that the BRTA does to the people, many people try to get the license in an illegal way. That is also the reason why most of the people think that BRTA is corrupted. In a recent newspaper article is was being posted that because of the corruption level in BRTA, every year Bangladesh Government is loosing 100 crore taka, which also can be the reason why people and I personally think that BRTA should be privatized (Mehedi).
Regarding all the problems that BRTA has, I think that there is a scope for the government to play role. Government should implement new rules and establish a new driving license delivering exams, which will be able to solve the harassment problem of the normal people a bit. Those policies obviously should not be designed in such a way that there will be scope to get or give bribe. It should be designed in a way that will examine those people who are getting the license are eligible and also quiet well qualified to get the license. Thus, it will obviously help to decrease the road accidents in Bangladesh.
Every time we can see that the Government is coming up with new laws and policies, but they are not implemented in a nice way. If that happens, it is better to privatize the BRTA, without updating the existing system.
Now days, we are also able to find out that many female are driving their own cars. It becomes more hazardous for them to get the license in a legal way. So, they are going to the driving schools to learn driving. In my survey, I have find out that almost all the female have got their driving license through the driving school and also in an illegal way. The driving learning school should also be developed, because they are the ones responsible for teaching the people to drive well. If they gets corrupted and gives the driving license to those peoples who doesn’t deserves it then the problem will be huge.
For us, those who have the adequate amount of money, getting the driving license is not a matter of fact for them and thus they may also disagree that getting the driving license is a harassment process. But, consider about those people who think thousand times before spending Tk. 100. For a professional driver, it really becomes hard for the first time to get the driving license.
After doing this research I was really satisfied a bit that I was able to fulfill a bit of my childhood interest and also able to find out a valid reason for my friends death. But still, I personally think that there should be another research done on the unfit vehicles running on the road, which can also be held responsible for the increase in the road accidents in our country.
Brta. Home page. 01 Jan. 2004. 30 July 2005 .
“Ensure Safety basic rights of the People.” Nation. Ittefaq.com 11 June 2005. 01 July 2005 .
Hossain, Moazzem. “Roads, Highways turn into Virtual Death Trap.” Newagebd.com 21 May 2005. 01 July 2005 < http://www.newagebd.com/2005/may/21/front.html>.
Islam, Nurul. Telephone interview. 20 July 2005.
Karim, Raihan Bin. Telephone interview. 20 July 2005.
Mehedi, Rashed. “Corruption in BRTA, Government loosing 100 crore taka every year.” Daily Janokhantho 24 July 2005: 1.