Retroreflective (RR) number plates or digital number plates introduced six years ago to check theft of motor vehicles are hardly coming into use of the transport owners.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) under a project it took in 2012 has so far issued some 140,000 RR number plates with radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags.
The BRTA collected around Tk 575 crore (5.75 billion) from the vehicle owners for the service. It took Tk 2,260 for each motorcycle or three-wheeler and Tk 4,628 for each bus, minibus, truck or car.
After attachment of the digital number plates, the BRTA tracked down a few stolen vehicles with the help of RFID check posts set up at 12 points in the capital.
The exact number of the stolen vehicles tracked down could not be obtained from the BRTA.
An expert said it is not clear whether RR number plates will be of any benefit to vehicle owners.
“BRTA took billions of taka from the transport owners in the name of service.
The project is simply eyewash,” he said wishing not to be named.
Law enforcers cannot collect information about vehicles from BRTA servers for lack of software and as a result, they have to contact BRTA for information, police sources said.
As digital number plates remain almost ineffective, traffic police have to check documents of vehicles by using traditional system, the sources adeed.
Due to lack of coordination from the BRTA, police are failing to get necessary information immediately about any stolen vehicle, they added.
Digital number plate is valid for seven years.Validity of most of the number plates will expire soon.
As per rules, vehicle owners have to renew number plates by paying fee following date expiry.
A BRTA official said steps will be taken soon to improve quality of the service through use of a new technology.
“A process is under way to set up RFID check posts on Dhaka-Chittagong highway to know about the location of stolen cars with RR number plates,” he added.
RFID check posts will be installed on all the highways in phases across the country. After installation of the check posts, digital number plates will be found useful.
It is learnt that without any survey, RFID stations were set up at only 12 points in the capital. A few vehicles could have been identified by these stations.
The RFID stations are located on Airport Road, Mohakhali, Gulshan-2, Kuril Biswa Road, Gabtoli, Farmgate, Science Laboratory intersection, Shahbagh, Kakrail, Gulistan and Buriganga Bridge-1 and Buriganga Bridge-2.
A question has been raised about the objective of the project as there is no station outside the capital. Even after six years, RFID identification instruments are not given to police.
BRTA secretary Muhammad Showkat Ali told daily sun: “RFID check posts were set up at 12 points in the capital. These check posts have the capacity to track down vehicles with RR number plates and RFID tags within a periphery of only 11 meters.”
Officials of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) said digital number plates attached to vehicles do not have any monitoring device and so, police cannot do anything properly.
A technology expert said it is possible to monitor vehicles with RR number plates from the control room by setting up adequate number of RFID stations and towers.
“Stolen cars can be recovered easily through this process,” he noted.
Prof Mahbub Alam Talukder of ARI at BUET said the system of digital number plates is not properly developed and that is why vehicle owners are not getting benefit from it.”
Some vehicles owners said in the name of special service, BRTA collected huge amount of money from them. It is a big fraud of BRTA as they are not giving any service, they alleged.
Contacted, BRTA director (operation) Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas said, “We are working to hand over RFID check posts to DMP as tracking is their responsibility.”
“But software is required for handing over the RFID check posts to the DMP. Development of the software is underway,” Shekhar Biswas added.
He said a proposal was sent to the authorities concerned for installing cameras with RFID check posts on highways to track and monitor movement of vehicles having RR number plates and RFID tags.