Some 2,000 vehicles of different types - worth Tk50 crore- have been dumped at five dumping stations of Cumilla Highway Police. Lawsuits have been ongoing for years, and owners are no longer interested in reclaiming their vehicles.
Some have rusted with prolonged exposure to the open air, covered with grass and weeds, while the inner components of others have decayed as well, according to officials from the district police.
Moreover, the vehicles are increasing in number every day, which have presented challenge for the highway police with regards to their upkeep and maintenance.
The length of the Cumilla section of the Dhaka-Chattogram highway is about 120 kilometres. There are two Highway Police Stations, two outposts and three dumping stations in this section.
Chandina is the largest of the three dumping stations and is under the jurisdiction of Mainamati Highway Crossing Police Station.
Vehicles from Mainamati Police Station and Eliotganj outpost area are dumped in this station. Furthermore, vehicles that cannot be accommodated in the other two dumping stations due to space constraints are sent here.
There are around 1,300 vehicles currently abandoned in Chandina dumping station, of which 1,000 are rickshaws and the rest are other types of vehicles.
The two other dumping stations on the highway are located in Daudkandi and Mia Bazar in Chauddagram, both of which are under the jurisdiction of Daudkandi Police Station and Mia Bazar highway outpost.
There are about 500 vehicles lying in these two dumping stations, most of which are CNG-powered and battery-powered autorickshaws.
There are two more dumping stations at Laksam on the Cumilla-Noakhali Regional Highway and Mirpur on the Cumilla-Sylhet Regional Highway, and most of the vehicles in these two locations are motorcycles.
There are 21 dumping stations in the Cumilla Highway Region - five are located in Cumilla district, while the remaining 16 are in Feni, Noakhali, Chattogram and Cox's Bazar districts.
The dumping stations house vehicles seized for various offenses from regional highways in the vicinity.
Depending on the level of offence, some vehicles are returned to the owners, while cases are filed against others. All the vehicles remain on the grounds of the dumping stations until such time that the cases are settled by the respective district courts.
However, the cases against these seized vehicles continue for such extended periods that it becomes increasingly difficult for some owners to reclaim their vehicles. At some point, they lose interest in taking them back.
Not a single seized vehicle case had been settled in the court since 2017, leading to a massive pileup in the dumping station
To avoid safety incidents at the dumping stations, police members disable the batteries of the battery-powered vehicles. Therefore, many vehicles have long ceased to be in working order.
After visiting the Chandina dumping station, vehicles worth crores were discovered to be getting damaged after prolonged exposure to the open air.
The vehicles and rickshaws were seen to be sprouting weeds; paint had peeled off and tyres of some had been punctured.
Speaking to several officials of Cumilla Highway Police, not a single seized vehicle case had been settled in the court since 2017, leading to a massive pileup in the dumping station.
However, last September this year, the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Cumilla took the initiative to settle the pending cases.
1,000 rickshaws are expected to be auctioned off by the end of October
Around 1,000 rickshaws are set to be auctioned off by the end of October.
Shafayet Hossain, officer-in-charge of Mainamati Highway Police Station in Cumilla, said, "Vehicles need to be held at the dumping station due to delays in settling cases. I have contacted the Superintendent of Police to resolve the issue."
Mollah Mohammad Shahin, additional superintendent of Police at Cumilla Highway Region, said, "The vehicles are worth around Tk50 crore. Vehicles seizure cases are not easily disposed of. Sometimes they are auctioned off after the cases are settled, and it is all a matter of time."
He said that he had contacted the Cumilla court to settle some cases and 1,000 rickshaws are expected to be auctioned off by the end of October.
Meanwhile, Al Amin Hossain, a banker and resident near the Chandina dumping station, expressed his displeasure over the wanton destruction of vehicles worth crores.
Police use cars through requisition. If the owners do not take back their vehicles, police can use the cars themselves after the cases are settled
He said, "Police use cars through requisition. If the owners do not take back their vehicles, police can use the cars themselves after the cases are settled."
Badrul Huda Jenu, president of the Socheton Nagorik Committee, Cumilla, said, "It is unfortunate that thousands of vehicles are being damaged. If the owner of a vehicle commits an offense, the case should be settled quickly, and the vehicle should be returned to the owner."
If such measures are taken, there will be no need for the vehicles to lie idle and become worthless, he added.
Jamil Ahmed Khandaker, president of the Cumilla District Motors Owners Association, said, "We will work in coordination with the National Committee towards prompt settlement of the cases in court."
Zahirul Islam Selim, public prosecutor at Cumilla court, said, "We also want speedy disposal of transport cases. I will draw the attention of the judge in this regard."