Defying the ban, the slow-moving three-wheelers – rickshaws – are still plying across the major city roads in the capital.
Alongside the traditional paddle three-wheelers, the unauthorized battery-driven rickshaws are also moving in different lanes in the capital at their own sweet will.It appeared that the ban on the movement of three-wheelers in the busy roads has failed to hold water.
With a view to easing the daily commute of the city dwellers and improving the nagging traffic condition, the slow-moving three-wheelers were made to be off-limit to three busy roads in the capital from July 7.
The roads include Kuril to Sayedabad via Rampura and Khilgaon; Gabtoli to Azimpur via Asad Gate; and Science Laboratory Intersection to Shahbagh Intersection.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon came up with the announcement after emerging from a meeting of a special committee formed in this regard at his office in the capital recently.
Talking to reporters, Khokon said DSCC and DNCC will begin a week-long drive on three selected roads in the capital to implement the agenda of the committee.
But no such drive is yet in sight.Rather, as soon as the ban was declared, hundreds of rickshaw-pullers took positions at several points from Uttara to Sayedabad in the capital to protest the restriction.
They gathered and blockaded roads at Maniknagar, Mugda, Gulabbagh and Sayedabad, halting traffic movements in the areas.
A rickshaw-puller Taher said they cannot accept the ban. “If necessary, the authorities can make a third lane only for rickshaws,” he said.
Commuters blame the huge number of such slow-moving three-wheelers for creating the nagging traffic congestion.
At the same time, fearing transport crisis in absence of rickshaws, they are also demanding sufficient passenger buses in these roads.
The city-dwellers also alleged that just before every month of the holy Ramadan and Eid festival, a large number of rickshaw-drivers migrate to the capital from different rural areas of the country to make extra money.
While visiting at Maniknagar Biswa road, Rampura, Badda points of the Kuril biswa road via Rampura on Thursday it was found that a large number of such three-wheelers were plying under the very noose of the traffic police.
Besides, a huge number of unauthorized battery-run rickshaws are still moving in different roads, thoroughfares, lane and by-lane in the capital defying the high court ban.
There are allegations that the vehicles are running as their drivers have been able to manage local police and the ruling party men.
The drivers of these vehicles said they have to pay around Tk1,000 to Tk1500 to local police stations a month.
According to Bangladesh Rickshaw Van Workers Union, the number of battery-run rickshaws in Dhaka is around 50,000.
On the other hand, the number of electric three-wheelers in the capital and its surrounding areas is more than 100,000.
The number of such vehicles is increasing day by day as there is no obstacle to their operation.
The situation has reached such a point that it has become difficult to walk on the streets due to the heavy presence of these vehicles.
Sources said at least 500MW of electricity is being used in recharging the battery-run three-wheelers in the capital.
Such use of electricity often results in load-shedding, they said.
On July 3 in 2014, the High Court banned the plying of mechanised and battery-run rickshaws across the country as the vehicles are being run without any licences.
With the passage of time, many battery run-rickshaws and easy bikes are seen to operate on streets in different areas of the capital, including Maniknagar, MUghda, Bashaboo, Mirpur, Pallabi, Darus Salam, Airport, Turag, Dakkhin Khan, Uttar Khan, Banasree, Azimpur, Kamrangirchar, Zigatola, Basabo-Madartek, Jatrabari, Kadamtali, Demra, Jurain, Shyampur, Mohammadpur, Adabor, Rampura, Khilgaon, Sipahibag, Badda, Meradia, Moghbazar, Modhubagh, Mohakhali Wireless Gate and Uttara.
Abdul Sattar, who runs his own battery-run rickshaw under the jurisdiction of Kadamtali police station, said: “I have to pay Tk1,500 per month to local police station so I can run my rickshaw.”
“I usually move between the alleys and by-lanes in the areas. Like me many others are doing the same.”
Many a rickshaw rider alleged that the motorised rickshaws are similar to ordinary pedal-driven rickshaws, but with the power of battery, they move faster and involve the risk of accidents.
A BRTA official said, “We continue conducting mobile courts in the capital. Right now several mobile courts are conducting operation against all kinds of illegal vehicles, including the battery run-rickshaws.”
Deputy Commissioner of DMP (media) Masudur Rahman said Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) conduct drives against the illegal battery-run rickshaws and traffic police seize them almost every day.
“But we are not aware that bribe is being taken from the drivers of the battery-run rickshaws,” added the DC.
The decision of removing rickshaw, human hauler and other illegal vehicles was taken at the first meeting of a DTCA committee formed over bringing discipline to city roads.
Earlier on June 19, a committee was formed to identify and remove unauthorised rickshaws, auto-rickshaws and battery-driven three-wheelers from the streets and free footpaths from grabbers in the next two months to ease the commute of city dwellers and improve traffic condition in the city.