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Bangladesh - September 22, 2021

Who cares ban?

Most streets under occupation
of illegal battery run rickshaws

Golam Mostafa Jibon: Though, the government has imposed ban on the plying of battery run rickshaws, thousands of such unauthorized battery driven rickshaws are plying randomly on most of the streets in the capital under the nose of concerned law enforcement agencies.But, none of the authorities concerned has headache over it, except enacting the law.
Experts said, there is law, but no application. There are also allegations that silent extortion is going on centering plying of battery-powered rickshaws on different roads in the capital. Billions of Takais being realized from these rickshaws every month. Such unauthorized battery-driven rickshaws are plying on different roads after managing some unscrupulous political leaders and relevant officials of administration through special tokens or stickers.
According to sources, the High Court earlier issued ban on the plying of battery run illegal rickshaws. But, no steps were taken to stop these risky vehicles. On the contrary, the number of such illegal vehicles is increasing at an alarming rate day by day. As a result, accidents are constantly happening, while traffic congestions are creating adding immense suffering to the city dwellers and commuters. Several incidents of clashes are occurring at places over taking control of extortion and establishing supremacy.
On the other hand, to reduce road accidents, the government has recently instructed to stop the use of battery run rickshaws and vans in different parts of the country. The decision was taken on June 20 last. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said, “While looking for the cause of the road accident, we have seen battery run illegal rickshaws-vans are being used all over the country. Those have brakes in front, but no brakes in the back. When it brakes, everyone including the passengers overturns and the accident happens. From now,no such rickshaws will be allowed to run in the country.”
It is learned that illegal battery-powered easy-bikes (auto-rickshaws) and unfit Laguna stands have sprung up everywhere, occupying the busiest roads in the congested city of Dhaka. As a result, pedestrians are suffering due to severe traffic jam.
On the other hand, there are allegations that the leaders of the ruling party and the police are extorting lakhs of Taka daily by capitalizing on these vehicles.
Battery run rickshaws are plying freely in Shyampur, Kadamtali, Demra, Jatrabari, Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Darussalam, Kafrul, Pallabi, Uttara, Uttar Khan, Dakshin Khan, Khilgaon, Sabujbagh, Rampura, Badda, Turag, Hazaribagh and Adabar area on the top of nose of traffic police.
These are moving in front of the eyes of the police and other law enforcers causing immense traffic congestions at places.
Besides, small and big shape accidents are occurring frequently.
However, no legal action is being taken against the banned vehicles. A senior BRTA official said, it was not possible to conduct mobile courts against these vehicles in all areas of the capital due to lack of manpower.
He also admitted about the reality saying that, every road, even lane and alley have blocked by the banned battery run rickshaws.
It is learned that, the police are giving verbal legitimacy to those illegal transports in exchange for large amount of money in all parts of the capital. In some areas, 40 to 50 new such illegal rickshawsare being added every day. Hundreds of banned vehicles are being producedafter managing the influential people and determined new routes on a daily basis.
According to local sources, a syndicate has brought about a thousand battery-powered rickshaws in the Donia area under Kadamtali police station in just a few months. The syndicate stole rickshaws from Narayanganj and surrounding areas and then those are kept in different garages of the town. Later, those are brought on roads after changing colour and attaching electric rechargeable battery.Police through their recruited agents realize extortion as monthly or weekly basis, it is alleged. In this case, a few local gangs or cadres work on behalf of the police. The money is used to meet the needs of the police, local political cadres, traffic department and other agencies. Sometime, the extortion is realized by some so called association or unions, sources said.

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