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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Autorickshaw protests: All you need to know

  • Several vehicles vandalized
  • Autorickshaw drivers need alternative employment arrangements
Update : 19 May 2024, 10:30 PM

Drivers of battery-powered rickshaws on Sunday protested by blocking roads in the Mirpur-10 and Pallabi areas of the capital, demanding permission to operate their vehicles. 

At one point, the police clashed with the rickshaw pullers in Kalshi, and the protesters set fire to a police box.

In the afternoon in Mirpur 10, there were chase and counter-chases between the protesters and the police with brick-hurling. However, no casualties were reported.

According to witnesses and the police, the rickshaw pullers set fire to the police box at the Kalshi intersection around 4:30 pm. The clashes erupted when the police used tear gas and charged batons to disperse the protesters who had blocked the Kalshi flyover.

After about five hours, around 3 pm, the police, along with leaders and workers of the ruling party, dispersed the protesters using lathi charges and tear gas.

Later, the rickshaw pullers regrouped in the Kalshi area and blocked the road by burning tires.

Police and eyewitnesses said that the rickshaw pullers set fire to the police box when the police gave chase around 3:30 pm.

Upon receiving the information, two fire service engines arrived at the scene to extinguish the fire. However, the firefighters were obstructed by the rickshaw pullers.

Around 6:30 in the evening, traffic resumed through the Kalshi area. However, some rickshaw pullers from the side streets threw bricks at vehicles on the main road, and the police positioned themselves near Baunia Bheri Badh.

DMP Mirpur Division Deputy Commissioner (DC) Jasim Uddin Molla told the media that autorickshaw movement was halted in the Mirpur area following a High Court order. In protest, the autorickshaw drivers gathered at Mirpur-10, began protesting, and blocked the road.

He said that after the police waited patiently for about four hours, legal action was taken against the drivers in Mirpur-10 square in the presence of the local member of parliament. The protesters then moved from Mirpur-10 to Kalshi and set the fire.

The drivers protested by blocking roads in Agargaon and Mirpur-10 from Sunday morning. They had vandalized 8-10 vehicles by 12 noon.

Munshi Sabbir Ahmed, officer-in-charge of Mirpur Police Station, said in the afternoon that the autorickshaw drivers had vandalized vehicles. One person has been detained.

Pallabi Police Station Inspector (Investigation) Mokhlesur Rahman said: “The autorickshaw drivers were carrying out violent protests in Kalshi. They set fire to a traffic police box located at Kalshi Mor. Necessary steps are being taken by the police in this regard.”

“Autorickshaw drivers blocked the road in Kalshi, stopping traffic on both sides. While trying to control the situation, they clashed with the police," he added.

Around 4:30 pm, the police removed the autorickshaw drivers from Mirpur-10 square, and traffic returned to normal.

Earlier, around 10:30 in the morning, the battery-operated autorickshaw drivers started protesting by blocking the road at Agargaon and Mirpur-10. Later, they took a position in front of Sony Cinema Hall at Mirpur-1.

Abu Saleh Md Raihan, Joint Commissioner (Traffic-North) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), confirmed the incident. Raihan said that the protesters blocked vehicle movement on roads from Mirpur-10 to Mirpur-11, Mirpur-2, Mirpur-13, and Shewrapara.

No more battery-operated rickshaws

Battery or motorized rickshaws and vans will no longer be allowed to operate in Dhaka city. Additionally, there is an order to stop the movement of faded, dilapidated, and noisy vehicles.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) issued this directive in a circular on Saturday. BRTA Deputy Director (Enforcement) Hemayet Uddin confirmed the notification on Sunday.

On May 15, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader directed that battery-operated rickshaws be banned in the capital. He issued this order during a Road Transport Advisory Council meeting at the BRTA office in Banani.

The minister stated that no battery-operated rickshaws can be operated in Dhaka. He emphasized that this is not just a ban; it must be ensured that these vehicles do not continue to operate. Additionally, rickshaws and easy bikes have been banned on 22 highways, and this ban must be implemented.

According to the police, the protest began with demands for permission to drive these vehicles on the road. Hundreds of battery-operated rickshaw pullers gathered at Mirpur-10. The police arrived to calm them down and tried to talk to the drivers, but they refused to leave the road.

Meanwhile, rickshaw pullers took to the streets in the morning in front of Purobi Cinema Hall in the Pallabi area. From there, they moved to the Mirpur-10 area and gathered.

The protests took place simultaneously in Mirpur, Pallabi, Agargaon, Taltala, Kalshi, and Mirpur-13 areas.

In the morning, the rickshaw pullers protested the ban on battery-operated rickshaws in various areas by holding processions and demonstrations.

Protesters demand alternative

The protesters said that the police are not allowing autorickshaws to operate on the roads, and many drivers have been detained in the Mirpur area over the past few days, with their autorickshaws seized.

They demand that the detained drivers be released and allowed to operate autorickshaws until alternative employment arrangements are made. 

One driver mentioned that collectors come to his house every morning to collect instalment payments. With the autorickshaws out of service, they have no income, raising concerns about how to pay the instalments and cover family expenses. 

Others said they were forced to take to the streets.

The police operation against autorickshaws is ongoing, with several autorickshaw drivers being arrested. The drivers are protesting against these actions.

 

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