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BRTC returns to profitability  

Ashif Islam Shaon
12 Feb 2024 21:28:55 | Update: 12 Feb 2024 21:28:55
BRTC returns to profitability  

The Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has managed to turn around from continuous losses to consistent profits, although it has not added any new vehicles to its fleet in recent years.

BRTC workers have been receiving regular salaries for three consecutive years, breaking the trend even after the appointment of 906 new officers and staffers from 2021 to 2023. The authorities have also started repaying debts.

The state-owned transport corporation is now planning to buy new buses and expand its routes in both domestic and international areas. Since its establishment in 1962, the corporation has recorded regular losses till the financial year 2019-20, except for a few years. It has Tk 1,107 crore in government and foreign loans for buying buses and trucks. The organisation has to run with the income earned by operating buses and trucks bought by the government. In FY2022-23, it made a profit of Tk 47.71 crore, the highest ever since its inception.

BRTC started making profits since FY2020-21. In the previous seven fiscal years, it made a total loss of Tk 23.46 crore. They spent Tk 1,858 crore till FY 2020 from FY 2013 but could not make a profit. In the financial year 2018-19, the expenditure of BRTC was Tk 265.53 crore against the income of Tk 258.88 crore. The loss that year was Tk 6.64 crore. On January 9, 2019, drivers and workers locked Joar Sahara Depot in Dhaka due to nine months’ salary arrears. There were 16 months’ salary dues at BRTC Narayanganj depot.

“Salary depended on income of certain depot or office. As a result, employees of some offices were unpaid and colleagues in other offices were paid. We have changed this system. Now the employees of BRTC across the country are getting paid on the first working day of the month whatever their office’s income is,” said BRTC Chairman Md Tazul Islam.

Currently, BRTC pays Tk 10.50 crore as salaries to permanent and contractual employees per month. Staffers’ due Tk 77 crore of total Tk 101 crore as salaries, gratuity and other retirement benefits has been paid.

BRTC started making a profit from FY 2020-2021 with Tk 89.85 lakh. Current chairman Md Tazul Islam, who is an additional secretary, joined the corporation being transferred from the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education in February 2021. BRTC kept earning a profit during his tenure since then as he took different steps to make it a disciplined and financially solvent corporation.

After joining, he pointed out 111 problems with help of BRTC colleagues and started making efforts to resolve them one by one. “Former minister of Shipping and transport businessman Shajahan Khan paid a visit to our office one day. He told us that his family made 70 buses with profit earned from just two buses. We were inspired,” he said.

BRTC made the first step by solving dispute with the owners’ organisation of private buses on different routes so that the state-run transport agency can operate on any route across the country.

“We told them that we will just operate a small number of buses and will adjust with timing with the private buses. Everybody wins,” he said.

“The main problem was corruption and syndication of corrupted employees. We tried to eliminate that and focused on income earning. At present, we have monthly turnover of Tk 52 crore operating old buses but when these vehicles were new, BRTC used to have turnover not more than Tk 32 crore,” he said.

The corporation is now trying on boosting revenue, cutting cost and developing the quality of service for the passengers. They have introduced budget allocation for three months to run the vehicles so that the expenditure can be done within limit.

 In 2020, BRTC had only 885 running buses despite it had imported 1,500 buses in 2010 as lack of proper maintenance pushed them out of service in shorter period than the expected life time. “So, we focused on repair. We have now 1,253 functioning vehicles after repair,” the chairman said.

The BRTC authorities also auctioned buses to clear space at depots so that new buses can be parked there safely instead of parking on roads. The buses are being operated on 208 local routes and five international routes. Three new international routes will be launched soon.

BRTC is also making profits by operating shuttle service to Dhaka International Trade fairground in Purbachal in the last three months and also operating to Uttara via elevated expressway.

“Paying regular salaries and awarding incentives, regular promotion has motivated the staffers. Besides, monitoring expenditure closely has cut wastage and financial corruption. We will continue this and try to bring the whole corporation under a system so that nobody can do that in the future as well,” the chairman said.