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Ban on Rickshaws: Commuters praise, rickshaw pullers resent

  • Published at 10:08 pm July 7th, 2019
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Law enforcement agency members stop rickshaw from entering Mirpur Road near Science Lab intersection on Sunday, July 7, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The ban came into effect on Sunday much to the chagrin of rickshaw pullers for whom it came as a big blow to their livelihoods

The ban on rickshaws on three major roads in the city incurred the wrath of rickshaw pullers while most commuters welcomed the government move.  

The ban came into effect on Sunday much to the chagrin of rickshaw pullers for whom it came as a big blow to their livelihoods. 

Sunday being the first day of the ban imposed by the two city corporations in Dhaka following a meeting of the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), saw a few rickshaws on those roads.

The streets that are within the purview of the ban are Progoti Sarani from Kuril to Sayedabad via Rampura and Khilgaon, Mirpur Road from Gabtoli to Azimpur, and Elephant Road from Science Laboratory to Shahbagh. 

Alauddin Sagar, a private job holder said the ban came as a great relief amid ever-growing traffic tailbacks in the city.  

“I hope the initiative will greatly help reduce traffic jams on city roads since nobody wants to be exhausted being stuck in gridlock,” he said.

Law enforcement agency members stop rickshaw from entering Mirpur Road near Science Lab intersection on Sunday, July 7, 2019 | Dhaka Tribune

Sagar suggested the authorities concerned bring in more public transport to improve Dhaka city’s traffic system. 

Echoing the sentiments, Shakila Afroz, who commutes between Kalabagan and Jatrabari to reach his office, said: “Definitely, this is a great job. We do need a Dhaka free of traffic jams.”

However, he said: "As rickshaw pullers are low-income people, the ban will take a heavy toll on their daily income."  

Interestingly, many passengers and rickshaw pullers said they were unaware of the ban. 

A middle-aged man looking for a rickshaw on Sunday afternoon at the mouth of Dhanmondi Rd 32 on Mirpur Rd, said he had no idea about the ban.

The man said: “I just came out of my home. Little did I know there was a ban imposed on rickshaws.” 

Sohel Rana, traffic sergeant at the intersection’s police box, said they kept an eye on Mirpur Road so that no rickshaw could operate on the major thoroughfare.

“One or two rickshaws entered the road, possibly by mistake. But we did not let them proceed,” said Sohel.

Photo shows a law enforcement member punctures a rickshaw wheel at Mirpur Road in Dhaka on Sunday, July 7, 2019 | Dhaka Tribune 

He said people would gradually get used to rickshaw free roads. 

Md Khokon, who has been a rickshaw puller in the city for the last 32 years, said he was disappointed with the decision of city authorities. 

“I have to pay Tk120 to the rickshaw owner in rent every day. I need to earn around Tk400 on average very day but if routes are restricted it will make a big dent in our earnings,” he said.

Another rickshaw puller, Md Badal, claiming to have been completely in the dark about the ban, said the number of passengers they get on a regular day will come down, resulting in a big slump in their earnings.

Around 58,000 licensed rickshaws are currently on the streets of DSCC. The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) says licensed rickshaws and vans are estimated to be 28,830 and 2,000 respectively, since the Dhaka City Corporation was split in two in November, 2011. 

However, the DNCC authorities do not have a revised figure for the number of rickshaws currently operating on their streets. 

According to a 2018 World Bank report, traffic congestion in Dhaka wastes around 3.2 million man hours a day.  This is ostensibly due to the low average traffic speed of seven kilometers an hour, costing the economy billions of dollars.