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Dhaka Tribune

Why rickshaws remain a constant challenge on Dhaka streets

  • A strict stance announced to reduce traffic congestion in Dhanmondi and Mohammadpur areas
  • Authorities insist that they have become stricter since Eid
  • They acknowledge that it will take some time to see significant improvements
Update : 21 May 2024, 10:00 AM

The government sporadically takes initiatives to stop rickshaw movement on the busiest and most important roads of Dhaka. Despite these efforts, it has proven difficult to eliminate rickshaws from the streets entirely. 

The Traffic Department of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police recently announced a strict stance to reduce traffic congestion in the Dhanmondi and Mohammadpur areas. 

However, due to the lack of consistent enforcement and opportunistic behavior of rickshaw drivers, the three-wheeled vehicles continue to ply the roads.

Following DMP’s recent initiative, tegular commuters in these areas have noticed some reduction in traffic congestion at various times of the day. Nonetheless, there is skepticism that the restrictions on rickshaw movement will be relaxed again, as has happened before.

Authorities insist that they have become stricter since Eid, but acknowledge that it will take some time to see significant improvements.

Mirpur Road, one of the main roads of the capital, is especially important as it passes through the Newmarket area, a hub for numerous retail and wholesale traders. 

Additionally, this road is frequently used by national and foreign dignitaries as it passes by Dhanmondi. However, rickshaws on this road have long caused traffic jams and slowed down traffic speeds.

The situation is similar in the neighboring Mohammadpur area, home to reputed educational institutes and a large residential population. Passengers often face prolonged traffic jams on their commutes.

To address this, the traffic zones in Dhanmondi and Mohammadpur have recently implemented measures to curb congestion and road chaos. 

For example, rickshaw movement on the main road from Dhanmondi-27 to Science Lab intersection was banned two months ago, and rickshaws are not allowed to enter the main road from any junction. 

However, due to inadequate surveillance on the connecting lanes, rickshaw drivers often sneak onto the main road when they find an opportunity.

On Sunday, a visit to the Dhanmondi section of Mirpur Road revealed no rickshaw congestion on the main road during office hours, except for one or two rickshaws. However, traffic jams or vehicle slowdowns were still observed at some crossings.

Shariful Islam, a Pathao driver, noted that rickshaw pullers often disrupt traffic flow by suddenly entering the main road, causing vehicles to brake or slow down. This mix of rickshaws and motor vehicles reduces the overall speed of traffic.

Rabiul Islam, a resident of Dhanmondi, said that while traffic congestion has decreased on several roads in the capital, Mirpur Road has not seen as much improvement. 

He believes that removing rickshaws from some parts of the main road has eased congestion somewhat, but doubts that the changes will last without constant police presence.

When asked about this, DMP Assistant Commissioner (Dhanmondi zone) Nobo Kumar Bishwas said: “We have been trying to keep rickshaws off the main road from Dhanmondi-27 to Newmarket for months. Still, sometimes one or two rickshaws violate the rules and enter the area.” 

He said rickshaws are allowed to cross from Russel Square to Metro Shopping Mall, and some take advantage of this to enter the main road. 

The police official emphasized that enforcement has become stricter recently.

Similarly, the Tejgaon Traffic Department has introduced several initiatives to reduce congestion in Mohammadpur, such as removing temporary parking of public transport at the bus stand, providing non-stop service from Bosila to Mohammadpur bus stand, and eliminating illegal hawkers from key intersections.

They have also implemented a new traffic circulation plan centered on the Mohammadpur bus stand.

In the afternoon at Mohammadpur bus stand, a separate lane for rickshaws was observed, though many rickshaw pullers were seen ignoring it. 

Traffic Sergeant Mehdi Hasan said: “A lot of vehicles ply in this area. We have installed barriers to create a separate lane for rickshaws. Still the rickshaw drivers do not follow the rules. They have a tendency to exploit any opportunity to re-enter the main road.”

Despite these challenges, regular commuters have noticed some improvements. Lovely Begum, who travels regularly from Bosila to Mohammadpur Laboratory School, said there has been a slight decrease in traffic congestion since Eid.

Deputy Commissioner (Traffic Tejgaon division) Mostak Ahmed said that the area around the Mohammadpur bus stand often experiences complaints about traffic jams. The combination of numerous schools, colleges, and varied types of vehicles and commuters has made traffic control difficult. 

He said: “We have started this drive after Eid. It took us 20-25 days to control the congestion after coordination with the traffic unit, community police, and locals.” 

The deputy commissioner said he expects to see positive results in reducing congestion in Mohammadpur.

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