Buses and Tempos
I used to travel by buses or "tempos" - which are three wheeled vehicles with a carrier at the back where people sit along the walls. Some bus services are government owned and their buses are standard, but by no means enough. The use of the word standard was to differentiate them from the privately owned services - where you'll see buses that wouldn't pass the 'fitness' standards of anywhere but third world countries - their front or back or all lights are either missing, or hanging by a wire, the seats inside are cramped to maximise the number of seats for maximum profit. Tempos have similar inhuman arrangements. Both of these services can be seen packing people to the brim where you might be standing indecently close to another sorry human being just trying to make his way to work or wherever. Apparently the bus owners' association is so strong that they are above the law. One member of that association is a minister. Conflict of interest anyone?

Taxis and Autorickshaws
These were introduced I suppose 10 or 15 years ago (autorickshaws existed long before, but not the variety we see on the roads today which run on CNG or Compressed Natural Gas) - when they were all new and used to run without any noise. That was true for about 2 years. They are fixed with meters that the drivers are not too happy about.

Everyone in the past 5 years have also grown weary and angry about these drivers constant refusal to go anywhere and their high fares when they do agree. They say they have to pay higher than the affixed charge to the people they lease the taxi from. Apparently this is a problem our law & order people cannot fix.

When I was able to get my hands on a car - be it an 86 model reconditioned car that was used before me for 16 years, boy was I glad. Glad to be above the mental torture that was trying to get on a bus or trying to speak out against their reckless driving when no one else would support me, or the hour spent trying to negotiate a taxi to get to work or back home! I was super glad, lets just say. However, running an old car is mighty expensive. After three years of having it, its become my main expense, especially for the last three months. As I was nearing saving enough to buy a fresher car - a reconditioned one from Japan maybe, since they are reliable enough to run for a good number of years, we have come close to another budget - and what have you - more taxes to be placed on cars. The reason he stated was what caused this downpour! They are luxury goods!? Really! In a country where public transport is allowed to reach such demeaning lows, how could you say that! If I visit neighboring Kolkata or Thailand, I find their sense of humanity is still reflected in their public transport systems. Buses in Thailand were wide, with enough leg-space and lots of place for standing commuters to be comfortable. They also have tempos which are the same way.

Cherry on Top: Tax-Free Rides for Ministers
An editorial yesterday went over the state of a provision that allows ministers to import cars duty free. This was put in place as an incentive for ministers serving remote areas. However, there are cases where they had just imported cars and sold them for profit! A civic sense if such existed might have denounced and punished these people. What exists instead is a sense that they deserve this. This is one issue that the feuding parties of our so-called democracy agree on and take advantage of.  Apparently, this governments term saw the most use of this providence. So, citizens, stay on the grass and just watch in awe as our lords and ladies continue to carry on this theater of governance and service. The editorial is linked below. The total amount of tax evaded through this provision is said to stand at Taka 280,00,00,000 (with current exchange rates, a little over 34 million US Dollars).

ধনবান মন্ত্রী-সাংসদদের গাড়ি-ক্ষুধা (সোহরাব হাসান)
PERSONAL: Navigating through Dhaka (Sanday Chongo Kabange)

সহজিয়া কড়চা: তালিয়া বাজাও—জোরসে তালিয়া বাজাও (সৈয়দ আবুল মকসুদ)