The banned three-wheelers plying the Benapole-Jashore and Navaron-Satkhira highways are increasing risks of accidents.
Locals accused the highway police of turning a blind eye to the situation in exchange for bribes. Sometimes, police seize a couple of three-wheelers and file cases but these are just acts, they alleged.
Police denied the charges.
But during a visit to the area, the UNB correspondent saw 'Mahendra' (locally-made battery-run three-wheelers) plying freely from Bagachara to Navaron-Satkhira intersection of Sharsha to Benapole on the Jashore-Benapole Highway.
The Mahendras are leaving for Benapole and Bagachra every few minutes from a makeshift terminal at the Satkhira intersection.
Apart from it, engine-driven three-wheelers and battery-operated vans, Nosimon and Korimon, are also plying the roads.
More than a hundred illegal three-wheelers are operating on the Jhikorgachha-Laujani, Navaron-Nobinagar, Godkhali-Jhikorgachha and Beneali-Jhikorgachha routes.
Accidents are taking place almost every day. Locals say the unpredictable movement of these vehicles is increasing the risk of big accidents.
Some people who spoke to UNB alleged that the vehicles continue to operate by bribing the Navaron Highway Police. The monthly one-time bribes range from Tk 450 to Tk 5,500.
There was another allegation that money was extorted from drivers of these illegal vehicles by a certain group to allow them to use streets in the municipal area.
Anisuzzaman, Administrative Officer of Jashore District Bus Owners Association, said they are facing financial loss because of the three-wheelers. "No action has been taken despite written petitions submitted to various administrative offices for stopping movement of these three-wheelers," he said.
Navaron Highway Police Outpost's in-charge Tito Kumar Nath said they are trying their best to stop the three-wheelers from plying the highways. "We're also filing cases against these illegal vehicles," he said, trashing allegations of accepting bribes.
Mohammad Farhad, ASP of Highway Police's Jashore Circle, said more than 200 three-wheelers were seized in the last one month.
"We're conducting drives to get these vehicles off the highways," he said. "Action will be taken against members of highway police if they violate the law (by accepting bribes and allowing the three-wheelers ply the highways)."