According to the new policy, a government committee will select capable companies to import the taxicabs under a reduced duty structure instead of previous “first come, first get” system.
The policy is on its final stage of formation. The Ministry of Communications has sought opinions about the final draft from all stakeholders by this week and is expected to finalise it by this month
The policy proposes to increase the fleet of a new company to minimum 1,000 taxis instead of present 20. The companies that have minimum paid-up capital of Tk 2.5 crore will be able to import the vehicles.
The present amount of paid-up capital is Tk 10 lakh.
The main objective is to bring back discipline in the sector to ensure safe and smooth public transportation at big cities. The revised policy will ensure availability, quality, affordability, and secure service.
Currently, 11,260 taxis are operating in the capital, of which 4,513 are AC and 6,747 are non-AC cabs. Of the new taxis to be imported, 4,740 will be AC and the rest 2,000 non-AC.
The new taxi companies have to be environmentally compliant and should possess their own premises for workshop, garage, depot and other facilities.
Besides, the companies will have to maintain own radio link and global positioning system (GPS) so that they can provide services through phone calls. The customers will have to count additional Tk 20 for telephonic service.
According to the revised policy, no company will be able to lease their vehicles to other companies or individuals and will require Bangladesh Road Transport Authority’s (BRTA) permission for ownership handover.
The commercial banks will be able to finance for taxicab procurement, but in that case the taxis will not get registration for the financing banks alone.
The new policy says no 800cc vehicles would be allowed to operate and minimum 1,200cc vehicles will be allowed to hit the streets.
Economic life of a taxi will be increased to 10 years from existing eight years. Reconditioned vehicles would be allowed as taxis, but they have to be less than three-year old, while the ceiling is up to five years for 2,000cc vehicles, the official says.
According to the policy, separate driving licence will be introduced for taxi drivers, who by no means can refuse short-trip services to passengers. Moreover, owners will be obliged to have radio communications between taxis and their very own refuelling facilities, he adds.
Cabs were introduced in the capital in 1999, but the aim collapsed within a few years. Currently, about 80 percent of the taxis are out of service.
The owners blame selection of wrong vehicles, unskilled drivers, and carjacking and road condition as major reasons behind the dismal state of the industry.
According to BRTA, out of 10,857 registered taxis in Dhaka around 7,500 have been discarded over fitness issue.