Rickshaw ban on key Dhaka streets fails to ease traffic snarls but spells sufferings

Bus operators are happy with the ban on rickshaws on three key streets in Dhaka, but it has become difficult for many commuters, especially women, to get any public transport while traffic jams have not eased.

Obaidur Masum Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 7 July 2019, 09:53 PM
Updated : 7 July 2019, 10:22 PM

Some bus operators kept the gate closed while some others were full to the brim after taking passengers on Sunday, the first day of the ban.

The city authorities have banned the three-wheelers pulled by men in a bid to ease traffic congestion, promising alternatives to ensure the passengers get public transport.

Some commuters demanded a separate lane for rickshaws but Dhaka South Mayor Sayeed Khokon said he saw no reason to meet the demand as the people welcomed the ban.

The streets out of bounds for rickshaws are from Gabtali to Azimpur via Asad Gate, from Science Lab Crossing to Shahbagh through Bata intersection and from Kuril to Syedabad Bus Terminal through Badda, Rampura and Khilgaon.

No rickshaw was allowed on Elephant Road while a few plied at Badda and Rampura.

At 1pm, there was no rickshaw on Pragati Sarani on Kuril Biswa Road, but a tailback of vehicles stretched from Kuril intersection to Nodda bus stand. It took 25 minutes to reach Jamuna Future Park from Kuril, a few minutes’ drive if the street is free.     

The scene was similar on the stretch from Coca-Cola area to Jamuna Future Park, though there was no rickshaw.

Many commuters were left stranded for transport at different bus stands on the street.

Umme Atia, a class 11 student of Kalachandpur School and College who would travel on rickshaws, was waiting at Nodda Bus Stand for a bus to Notun Bazar.

“It’s hard to get on a bus at Notun Bazar as well. Drivers don’t stop buses when they see us in college uniform. I am not against the rickshaw ban. It would be good if there were enough buses. But there aren't on this route,” she said.

Mizanur Rahman, a resident of Khilgaon who works at a private organisation, said most buses travel in the area with doors closed after taking passengers elsewhere.

“How will women, children and the elderly travel now? It wasn’t right to take such a thoughtless decision before increasing the number of buses. And what will the poor rickshaw-pullers live off?” he asked.

A rickshaw-puller at Anandanagar in Badda who identified himself as only Alamgir was worried about his future in the area.

“There are fewer passengers on the lanes than on the main street. How will I survive if my income stops? I have also recently got my boy admitted to a school,” he said.

Millat Hossain, a resident of the area, believes it will not take much space to make a separate lane for rickshaws after living two lanes for motor vehicles.

“It would be good for all because there is no scope of travelling a short distance without rickshaw,” he said.

Bus operators are very happy with the ban on rickshaws on Pragati Sarani.

Mohammad Doyal, who drives a bus of Akik Paribahan on Mirpur-Badda route, believes the move will ease traffic congestions.

“Rickshaws always get on our lane. Now we will be able to drive comfortably,” he said.

The commuter sufferings were same on the street from Shahbagh to Science Laboratory.

Jannatul Ferdous, a public servant, said she would travel from her home at Science Laboratory to her workplace at Segunbagicha by rickshaw.

“The buses that stop at Science Laboratory are always filled up. I am taking an autorickshaw today but I am already late after waiting to catch s bus. This rickshaw ban is driving my transport cost up as well,” she said.

Mayor Khokon, however, said most of the people responded positively to the rickshaw ban as there is already enough public transport on these streets now free from the three-wheelers.

“We have some bad habits like taking rickshaws to cross a short distance. Now people will develop the habit of walking following the ban on rickshaws,” he said.

The mayor also said they kept a separate lane for rickshaws earlier but the initiative did not work as those started taking the lanes for motor vehicles.