Dhaka, Bangladesh
Taming the rickshaw trouble

Taming the rickshaw trouble

A fast-growing megacity like Dhaka clogged with slow-moving, antiquated and superannuated rickshaws presents a dismal picture of anachronism par excellence. A story run by The News Today, on Sunday speaks of the incompatibility of rickshaws with a modern capital city. The experts underscored the need for a modern and motorised transport system keeping pace with the country’s economic progress. Thanks to the absence of an effective mass transport system it has not been possible to get rid of rickshaws in the city. Lack of a long-term urban transport plan and comprehensive phase-out programme, flaws in transport management, relaxed enforcement of law and inadequate mass transport – all combined together are the reasons for the ubiquitous presence of rickshaws in the city. If it is impossible to do away with rickshaws until the effective and adequate mass transport system can be introduced, there should be certain stringent rules for allowing rickshaws to ply in the city. More often than not rickshaws create traffic snarls on some main thoroughfares because of their uncontrolled movement. Then again, they crowd the entire road leaving no space for any vehicle to pass. The massive congestion they create in front of some schools when those break up is a nerve-racking scene. However, in order to prevent rickshaws from creating traffic snarl there should be rickshaw stands at different convenient spots in the city. Rickshaw-pullers should be liable to be punished if they crowd a place other than the rickshaw stand. The authorities should adopt a flagship policy to regulate the plying of rickshaws in the city. The rickshawowners should be brought under a nominal tax net as they are making a windfall dividend now-a-days. Statistics show that there are about 13 lakh plus rickshaws in the city, but some 87000 of those are legal. The erstwhile undivided Dhaka City Corporation issued licences for around 79,554 rickshaws in 1982. Since then, the city authorities have been renewing those licences, but did not issue any fresh one. But the number of unauthorised rickshaws is rapidly rising in the city. It is not clear to us why the authorities are blind to the sharp rise in the number of unauthorised rickshaws. As 40 per cent of total trips of the city commuters now take place with rickshaws for door to door service it is not feasible to remove rickshaws abruptly at one go. So, the authorities may realise a nominal tax, in whatever shape it might be, from each rickshaw per day and it will be a big chunk of money to add to the revenue earning. This may lead to the decrease in the number of unauthorised rickshaws. This may ultimately ease the heavy traffic jam too.

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