Mahbubur Rahman Khan
Imposing ban on rickshaw movement on different roads of the capital could not stop traffic jam rather it accentuated the economic woes of people, pushed more rickshaw pullers into poverty trap and created transport problem for a large number of commuters.
Hundreds of poor people in the capital mange their bare necessities of life by pulling rickshaw. The earnings of the rickshaw pullers, however meager, could make dent on poverty and alleviate sufferings of their family members in the countryside at least to some extent. Rickshaw pullers of the Dhaka city remit about tk 2 crore to their village homes each month. But imposition of ban on rickshaw movement on certain roads in the capital has robbed a good number of rickshaw pullers of their means of livelihood, according to Human Resource Centre (HRC).
The revenue earnings of the government from the rickshaw related industry and trade are much higher than those of the small automobiles. The government earned Tk 1,980 crore in revenue from rickshaw sector compared to Tk 64 crore from small automobiles in 2004-05 fiscal, said a report of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Rickshaws in Dhaka city alone save fuel worth Tk 5,000 core every year and the yearly savings from the point of environment stand at Tk 10,000 crore, said a survey report of Paribash Bachao Andolon (PABA),an NGO.
There is no updated statistics on the actual number of rickshaws plying on different roads in the capital. Its number varies from two lakh to five lakh.
Imposition of ban on non-automobile transports on particular roads could not stop traffic congestion. A survey conducted by Human Development Resource Centre (HDRC) in 2004 found that the expenditure of rickshaw users has increased after the ban on rickshaws. Ban on the movement of rickshaws on certain roads in Mirpur area in the capital on the plea of reducing traffic jam has not produced the desired result. Rather the step increased traffic congestion on the roads which were made off-limit to rickshaws.
Citing example, the survey report said that following the imposition of ban on the movement of rickshaws on those roads, 25 percent of the commuters were compelled to walk through the roads in the absence of footpath. 42 percent of the people, who used to travel by rickshaws before the imposition of ban, are now hiring different modes of automobiles to go to different destinations. Extra pressure of mechanised transports on these roads made off-limit to rickshaws has simply choked them creating much discomfort for the commuters, the survey report added.
The imposition of ban on the movement of rickshaws has also reduced the income of rickshaw pullers by 32 percent, it claimed.
A survey report of Dhaka Urban Transport Project (DUTP) said rickshaws in no way create obstacle in the movement of mechanized transports. After making some roads in Mirpur off limit to rickshaws the average speed of buses plying in the area rather dropped by 3.8 kilometer, it mentioned.
Shakil Bin Kashem, Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), told The New Nation that the traffic system has deteriorated after imposition of ban on rickshaw on some roads in the capital.
Syed Saiful Alam
Save The Environment Movement