The ban on rickshaws on three routes in the capital, which was supposed to be in effect on Sunday, is yet to be implemented.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) on Wednesday took a decision to ban rickshaw on several roads by Sunday with a view to getting rid of unbearable traffic jam in the capital.
However, on Sunday morning many rickshaws were seen plying along those routes; although, few attempts by traffic police and city corporation officials to control rickshaws from using the roads within the routes have been spotted.
In an effort to bring discipline in chaotic traffic condition in the city, the two city corporations took the decision to ban rickshaws along the following routes: Gabtoli to Azimpur via Asad Gate, Science Lab intersection to Shahbagh via Bata Intersection, and Kuril to Syedabad Bus Terminal via Badda, Rampura and Khilgaon, which was supposed to be implemented from Sunday.
But rickshaws were seen plying the Science Lab Crossing to Shahbagh, Azimpur to New Market, Kalabagan to Shaymoli and along roads of Dhanmondi, Badda, Rampura, and some other roads within banned routes.
As ‘progressive student alliance’, supporting Sunday’s strike called by Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), blocked Shahbag intersection; rickshaw was available along the Shahbag to Science lab route, although police were not allowing them to go on to the Azimpur-Gabtoli route.
Traffic Sargent Md. Mahmud at Science Lab Intersection said, “We are not allowing rickshaws on the main road (Azimpur to Gabtoli), and we have found it effective. Now, after the change, buses are running faster and do not have to wait for a long time at signals. Rickshaws were making vehicle movement slower, but from now on people will not suffer from traffic jam.”
At Science Lab Intersection, a team of DSCC was working with traffic police to control rickshaw movement.
Md. Riyajul Hossain, administrative officer of DSCC, said to TBS, “Our mayor has ordered us to help the traffic police. If we find any rickshaw on main roads, we are directing those to the side roads and lanes. There are three other teams who are also working in different parts of the city to this end.”
Rickshaw pullers said they were unaware of the decision and in some places traffic police has not stopped them from entering into main roads. On the other hand, traffic police officers said due to lack of manpower it was impossible for them to control rickshaws in those areas.
Abdullah Al Mamun, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Badda Traffic zone), claimed that banning rickshaw would not be much effective in minimising the traffic congestion. Total traffic management system of the city should be rearranged, he added.
Rickshaw pullers expressed their frustration over the rickshaw ban, which would make their life miserable.
Rickshaw puller Md. Faruq Hossain said, “I have to pay Tk120 to the rickshaw owner. Since morning today, I have earned 70tk only as traffic police are not allowing us to ply on many roads. If it goes on I, along with my family, have to die of starvation.
He expressed his dissatisfaction, saying why police does not ban private cars. “We are poor, and the authority is imposing law on us only,” he retorted.
General people expressed mixed reaction on the ban. Some people thought that the ban would reduce traffic jam, while according to some others the initiative would aggravate their daily suffering regarding transport.
Md Sumon, a student of Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College, said, “This ban will surely reduce the traffic jam, but the rickshaw pullers will be adversely affected by the decision. Before implementing this type of ban, alternative employment to the affected rickshaw pullers should be ensured; otherwise, there will not be any substantial improvement of the situation.”
Experts say that only the ban on rickshaw will not be effective, because there are a huge number of cars that occupy huge space on the roads, carrying only a few passengers.
Sayed Saiful Alam Shovan, Publicity Coordinator of Carfree Cities Alliance Bangladesh movement, claimed, “Rickshaws are not the only cause of traffic jam in the city. Seventy percent space of road is used by private cars; whereas, the cars commute only 9 percent of the total passengers. So, we have to take it into consideration, and proper steps should be taken to get rid of the problem.”