Illegal rickshaws dominate Dhaka streets

Dhaka streets are currently crowded by around 225,000 rickshaws, of which 137,189 rickshaws lack valid legal documents.

Published : 21 Oct 2014, 03:45 AM
Updated : 21 Oct 2014, 04:02 AM

Most of the village agriculture workers who come to Dhaka in search of jobs have increasingly gone into this informal sector on a temporary basis.

Only the Dhaka City Corporations (DCC) are entitled to issue license for rickshaws in the capital city, but the issuing of new rickshaw licences were stopped in the late 80's.

But everyday new rickshaws roll out on Dhaka's roads without a valid licence.

Despite a ban on plying of rickshaws on Dhaka's key roads, rickshaws have been roaming freely on them in recent years.

Even rickshaws ply on these roads during the rush hours, jamming the wide roads ever so badly.

In replying to a query on rickshaw ban on key roads, Dhaka Metropolitan Police's (DMP) traffic control room said they had neither lifted nor relaxed the ban on rickshaw movement on VIP roads.

According to Manjur Hossain, a member of Dhaka Rickshaw and Van Owners' Federation, there are currently around 6000 rickshaw garages and about 225,000 rickshaws in Dhaka.

And around 800,000 men are engaged in this profession. Most of the rickshaws in Dhaka have number plates issued by two organisations----Dhaka Rickshaw and Van Owners' Federation and ‘Muktijoddha Samannay Parishad’.

But the numbers on the plates do not indicate any licence number; they rather represent membership number of the respective organisations.

The only advantage of having this number plate is that the unfortunate rickshaw puller of a stolen rickshaw could get back his rickshaw for some money through mediation of some organisation.

Photo: asif mahmud ove/

Assistant of DCC North's chief revenue officer Giasuddin said DCC had so far distributed around 87,811 valid rickshaw licences. Revenue officer Mamtaj Uddin said," We have stopped issuing new licence since the Ershad's era."
Garage owners say each of the valid licence with a rickshaw is now being sold at Tk 15,000. Many also lend the valid licences. Moreover, many rickshaws are using just one valid licence.
Garage owners and rickshaw workers from Bhashantek and Diabari area of Mirpur informed that rickshaw number surges during the big festivals like Eid and Bengali new year celebration. The number however declines during the harvesting and cropping seasons in rural areas.
A rickshaw worker has to pay Tk 100-120 to garage owners for hiring a rickshaw for a full day and Tk 60-80 for half day.
A rickshaw worker hailing from Jaipurhat said that agriculture workers of his district go back to their native villages in November and July. When they have no seasonal employment in villages, they come to Dhaka to drive rickshaws.
Lack of seasonal employments in the villages pushes the agricultural workers to the capital and to accommodate them into the city’s informal sector, the number of illegal rickshaws continues to swell.