Sunday, February 25, 2024

Private yet up for hiring

Unscrupulous operators of CNG three-wheelers find a way as govt not registering commercial ones since 2004; bribery keeps lawmen’s eyes shut
A large number of private CNG-run three-wheelers ply the city streets as vehicles for hire, flouting their registration rules.
With the word “private” inscribed on their bodies, the grey vehicles wait at bus stops and major intersections for carrying passengers illegally.
Law enforcers hardly take any action against them as the drivers pay monthly bribes to some unscrupulous cops, complained leaders of auto-rickshaw owners’ association.
The government let over 13,000 CNG-run auto-rickshaws get registered as commercial vehicles between 2001 and 2004. But since 2004, it did not allow any new registration, considering the heavy traffic in the capital, said Badruddouza, additional secretary of the communications ministry.
Aiyubur Rahman, chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), said the authorities had planned to issue 5,000 new registrations but they could not do so because of a case pending in a court.
In last eight years, no new registration has been given for CNG-run auto-rickshaws to run commercially. This has compounded the sufferings of the commuters as the demand for three-wheelers has increased over the years.
Cashing in on the situation, some influential people in collaboration with some crooked government officials manage registration for private three-wheelers and operate those commercially.
According to registration rules of private three-wheelers, they cannot transport passengers commercially.
Many commuters do not know that riding a private three-wheeler is illegal. Even those who are aware do not hesitate to violate the rule, as getting a ride to their destinations is all they care about during rush hours.
“Private three-wheelers are running commercially with the blessings of some law enforcers and government officials,” alleged ATM Nazmul Hasan, general secretary of Dhaka Metropolitan CNG Auto-Rickshaw Owners’ Association.
BRTA officials said 232 private CNG-run three-wheelers have been granted registration to ply the city streets. Commercial three-wheeler operators, however, claimed the number would be around 15 times more.
Around 3,000 more private auto-rickshaws are registered for plying only outside the metropolitan area, but they are entering the city daily and carrying passengers violating the rule, said Nazmul.
He said the shortage of auto-rickshaws in the capital would worsen, as around 6,000 vehicles will be withdrawn from the city streets in December next year on expiry of their economic life.
HM Iqbal, general secretary of Dhaka CNG Auto-rickshaw Malik Samity, said, “The communications minister has assured us of stern measures if any private auto-rickshaw is found operating on commercial basis. But no action has been taken yet.”
Abul Hossain, who drives a private auto-rickshaw, said he got the registration around 22 months ago with the help of a private bank official. He persuaded the BRTA staff saying that the vehicle would be used to carry some bank employees.
Asked about violation of law, he said, “Many people are doing this in the city. What’s wrong if I earn my livelihood from this?”
Another driver, Abdul Hannan, said he pays around Tk 150 daily to police as he runs his private three-wheeler commercially.
“In most cases I can manage police, but sometimes they file cases also. Two cases are pending now against my vehicle,” he mentioned.
Queried how he had obtained registration, he said the employees of a motor showroom in the city’s Eskaton area managed the registration and other necessary documents. The vehicle was purchased from that showroom.
Some drivers, however, are not worried at all about police action, as they claim their vehicles are owned by police officials.
“I am not anxious about police checking my registration documents, because the owner of this vehicle is a police official. If traffic police stop my auto-rickshaw, I give reference of my employer,” said a driver in the city’s Mirpur area, seeking anonymity.
Contacted, Alamgir Kabir, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (traffic – south), said he has joined his office just a week ago and was not aware of private three-wheelers plying the city streets illegally.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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