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2017-01-12

Popularity 3Viewed 3347 times 2017-1-12 22:12 |Personal category:My Writing|System category:News| different, continue, decrease, country, number


Mohammad Wazed Ali

Pedalled rickshaws continue to make an influx into the Dhaka as homegrown autos, conversely, occupy their place. Dhaka's streets are, thus, clogged with the manually-driven three-wheelers.

According to experts and city-dwellers, apart from a steady rise in the number of such common mode of transports, many rickshaws continue to enter the city from different parts of the country due to a remarkable decrease in the number of passengers and fare in their native places.

Talking to the FE, a number of rickshaw-pullers said they came to Dhaka because of the advent of new types of transport like battery-run auto-rickshaws, 'Nasimon', 'Karimon' and 'Tomtom'. The novelties knocked down their income.

Besides, poor people from rural areas across the country come in search of jobs but, sooner or later, most of them also hit the streets with the rickshaw.

Milon Uddin is among such livelihood migrants to the capital. Hailing from Comilla, he stays at Keraniganj. He said he came to Dhaka last August. He tried hard to get a job, but to no avail. After struggling few days he met with a neighbour, Kamal Mia, who is a rickshaw-puller. Kamal took him to Zahir Hossain who owns a garage and has around 200 rickshaws. With Kamal Mia's reference he rented a rickshaw.

"Now I can earn Tk 600 to 800 per day and send Tk 8,000 to 12,000 per month with which all kinds of expenses of my family are being maintained," says Milon.

Sattar Mia, who recently came in from Natore, said he had pulled rickshaw in his native town for five years but his income declined significantly in recent times as other modes of transport drastically cut their passengers.

Such unabated influx of rickshaws has created extra burden even though many of the capital's main roads have been made off-limits to rickshaws. According to the city planners and traffic police, such unrestricted growth of rickshaws has posed a big challenge for coping with the city's traffic management.

Beginning in 2002, the government has restricted rickshaw movement on many roads of the city in the wake of worsening jams. Preferring anonymity a traffic sergeant told the FE the number of rickshaws should be on the wane, but, disappointingly, it is increasing by leaps and bounds. Extra rickshaws always impede the normal pace.

Asked about rickshaws' impact on traffic jam, the cop said although on some roads rickshaw entry is prohibited, their gathering in the circles also impede traffic management.

"Although we should lessen the number of rickshaws, it is relentlessly increasing and thus pressuring normal pace," he added.

None of the authorities concerned, including Dhaka City corporations and traffic police, has had data on the number of rickshaws plying the city streets. But the number of such small transport vehicles, according to experts, could be 1.1 million to 1.2 million at present. And only 79,554 of the three-wheelers are licensed.

Dhaka City Corporation authorities have not issued a single licence for rickshaw since 1986.

Currently, the number of licensed rickshaws under Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) is 52,728 while the remaining 26,826 are under Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), officials said.

However, different organizations and federations under the patronage of political parties and influential quarters are allegedly allowing such a large number of illegal rickshaws in the jam-packed city.

Among them, credit for the illegal ones plying the city streets go to Bangladesh Rickshaw and Van Malik Federation, National Rickshaw-Van Sramik League, Dhaka Mohanagor Rickshaw Malik League, Dhaka Mohanagor Rickshaw Sramik League, Muktijoddha Samannoy Parishad and Bangladesh Rickshaw-van Sangram Parishad.

When contacted, Insur Ali, President of the National Rickshaw-Van Sramik League, said their members are around five thousand rickshaw owners who pay Tk 40 per month for a rickshaw. But talking with others it was found that the fee is Tk 190 per month for each.

Monjur Islam, Secretary, Bangladesh Rickshaw and Van Malik Federation, however, said they charge Tk 80 per month.

"We are doing a lot of supporting activities for the betterment of rickshaw-pullers and the charge is for only maintaining expenses of the organization," he added.

However, both Insur Ali and Monjur Islam claimed they take charge only for the obligation of the organization which aims at handling unavoidable circumstances and ensuring unity among the rickshaw owners. 

Experts say the government is being deprived of a substantial amount of money as there are almost 0.9 million (9.0 lakh) illegal rickshaws and as various federations are getting around Tk 180 million (18 crore) per month (as number of rickshaws is no less than 1.0 miliion).

Although both DSCC and DNCC in cooperation with Dhaka Metropolitan Police and other authorities are launching drives at various locations against unauthorized rickshaws, such steps have hardly yielded any visible solution.

Stressing a long-term planning, Md. Mostafa Kamal, government Deputy Secretary and Chief Revenue Officer at Dhaka South City Corporation, said: "Although the eviction process of illegal rickshaws is ongoing, we need a long-term comprehensive plan in respect of a win-win situation."

He opined that though extra rickshaws contribute to traffic congestions, all of the related factors such as lack of mass transport and alternative employment opportunities for rickshaw-pullers should also be taken into consideration.

Prof. Dr. Musleh Uddin Hasan, Associate Professor, the Dept of Urban & Regional Planning of BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology), suggests an integrated and scientific plan for allowing the required number of rickshaws in the city.

Citing a study conducted in 2010 by JICA, Prof. Hashan mentioned that out of 20 million trips per day 7.4 million are by means of rickshaw. 

 of the city,s trips 60 per cent are short trips (less than three kilometers) where rickshaw is only means of vehicle and simultaneously it can ensure green city, save energy costs and contribute to our economy. If government can follow a transparent system by providing licence to required rickshaws, substantial amount also can be added to government fund. So, we should not overlook significance of rickshaws," he said.

The engineering professor also suggested that area-wise plans should be adopted. "We should adopt area-wise plan by considering number of trips that take place in respective areas, and remaining others need to be evacuated."

When asked about illegal rickshaws, he said rickshaw federations, unscrupulous city corporation officials and various vested quarters are getting benefited from the plying of illegal rickshaws but government is being deprived of registration proceeds.

      wazeddu@yahoo.com

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (4 comments)

Reply Report mbursian 2017-1-17 07:11
Very interesting and informative.  Dhaka, the rickshaw capital of the world.  That is amazing, 1.1 million rickshaws and only 80,000 are licensed; that's nearly 7% that are legal and 93% that are illegal.  Yes, that certainly does represent a lot of lost revenue for the government in licensing and registrations.  The government needs to consider how eco-friendly the cycle rickshaw is, and it's zero impact on the environment.  The rising middle-class in Dhaka is similar to the rising middle-class in Chinese cities... scooters, taxis and privately owned cars are competing for the same space, but they also bring excessive pollution.  The government needs to find a balance and control the growth.
Reply Report Wazed 2017-1-17 13:46
yea, various vested quarter are taking the advantages. I am happy to inform you that after my report the government has taken some initiative ensure a disciplined approach and control such common mode of vehicle. Traffic Jam is one of the unbearable problems of the city which is consistently obstructing the country's development pace and importantly the government is also sincerely now working on. We Bangladesh's economy will show something different within couple of years through RMG, Pharmaceuticals, leather and SMEs sectors.
Reply Report Ashikujaman 2017-1-18 01:57
I hope in future or day by day, everything will be ok。

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