Tuesday, 18 January, 2022

Ride-sharing bikers fall prey to extortion

  • Mahabub Alam
  • 3rd January, 2022 10:09:38 PM
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Ride-sharing bikers fall prey to extortion

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Money is being extorted from ride-sharing bikers by a section of unscrupulous people at different points of the capital in the name of bike stand toll.

The illegal practice has been going on for more than one year allegedly under the very nose of law enforcement agencies.

This correspondent talked to 14 bikers hailing from Sabujbagh, Rampura, Tejgaon, Badda, Khilgaon and Airport areas who share rides across the capital.

They said money is being extorted from them at Sadarghat, Phulbaria, Gulistan Mazar, Mohammadpur  crossing, Basila, Mohakhali, Staff Quarters at Demra, Jasim Uddin at Uttara, Tejgaon, Jatrabari crossing and other parts of the city in the name of transport owner-worker associations and police.

Every time, Tk 10 is taken at each spot and a motorcyclist has to pay Tk 50-80 per day as extortion, the bikers said.

They said when any passenger gets on anyone’s bike at any spot, he has to pay Tk 10 to the ‘lineman.’

Contacted, Faruk Hossain, spokesperson for Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), told the Daily Sun that they have heard of the matter. “If any biker lodges any complaint, we’ll take action,” he said.

He added that they also heard that toll is being taken illegally issuing tokens. “If any victim files any complaint, police will take action,” he said.

Biker Mohammad Khalid was waiting under Mayor Hanif Flyover at Phulbaria in the capital for passengers on Monday.

After a few moments, a passenger approached him around 11:00am and reached a deal for going to his destination.

As Khalid started his motorbike and the passenger rode pillion, a man named Mohammad Sharif came to Khalid and demanded something. Then the biker gave him Tk 10.

Asked why he gave the amount to the man, Khalid told the Daily Sun that it was given as toll for picking up passengers from there. “Every day, each motorcyclist who shares rides with passengers has to pay toll at 5-10 spots like Phulbaria.”

When asked, Sharif, who was wearing uniform of Phulbaria Bus Terminal and Owners’ Association and Labourers Union, told the Daily Sun that he was appointed by the owners’ association to maintain vehicles there. “I’m paid Tk 200 per day as my wage. What I can take from drivers of different vehicles is my extra income,” he said.

However, it was learned that he collects money on behalf of a syndicate active in the area.

Another man named Rana, who is also in the association uniform, disagreed with Sharif, saying they were being paid Tk 10,000 as monthly salary and they have no right to take any money from any vehicle.

Sajib, who runs motorcyclist using Uber app, told the Daily Sun that he has to pay toll at 4-5 spots every day. “On average Tk 1,000 can be earned a day by making trips. Of them, Tk 200-350 is spent as fuel cost, Tk 50 as toll as well as Uber charge. It’s difficult for us to lead life with the rest of the amount,” he said.