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22 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 22 February, 2018 12:02:33 AM
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Teens turn terrible drivers

Saugato Bosu
Teens turn terrible drivers
INNOCENT IN LOOK BUT EXPERIENCED IN WORK: A child helps a driver while another boy (inset) yet to come of age but drives one of the 5,000 human haulers in the capital yesterday. Independent Photo

The number of human haulers, popularly known as leguna, in Dhaka city and on its outskirts is increasing alarmingly. These vehicles, driven recklessly mostly by teenagers, have been blamed for several road accidents.

Despite moves by different organisations to ban this mode of transport, the government has not been able to free the roads and highways of these rather hazardous vehicles.

In Dhaka, these vehicles do not operate on the main roads and take the lanes and by-lanes of the city to reach their destinations. Despite many complaints of the 14-seater vehicle, passengers prefer to ride these because of their low fares and ability to reach destinations fast.

According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), 5,141 human haulers have been registered in Dhaka city. Human haulers mainly operate in Farmgate, Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Banasree and New Market areas of the city.

This correspondent visited several areas of Dhaka and found that human haulers were driven mostly by teenagers, while their helpers were between eight and 12 years old. These drivers have no licences issued and have learnt driving only while working as helpers.

Requesting anonymity, some drivers said that most human haulers were old and lacked fitness certificates.

At Farmgate and Shamoli, this correspondent found that most of these human haulers did not have horns. The footboards were in a poor condition. Seats next to the driver were in an appalling state. The 14-seaters were so overcrowded that the passengers found it difficult to sit inside the vehicle.

However, these overcrowded haulers attracted no glare from traffic police.

Pavel Hossain, a commuter who takes human haulers from Farmgate to Tejgaon daily, told this correspondent that the vehicles were driven recklessly and he himself

had witnessed as many as four accidents on the route.

Sources at the BRTA and traffic department of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) said that they took appropriate action whenever they found any unfit human haulers on the streets.

According to the BRTA, people take these vehicles because of inadequate public

transport.

Dr M Shafiq-Ur Rahman, professor of the urban and regional planning Department of Jahangirnagar University, said: “There are a lot of human haulers because of the inadequacy of mass transportation. The number of mass transport vehicles has to be increased. Human haulers are popular in areas where buses cannot ply. Drivers and helpers of human haulers must be given proper training. Stricter traffic laws and monitoring should be enforced to control these vehicles.”

Sajedul Karim, a commuter, said traffic police did not file cases against these vehicles as most of them had unholy nexus with them.

Many commuters told this correspondent that they boarded human haulers as they were cheaper than other modes of transport and reached their destinations on time. “We take the vehicles as they are convenient for travelling short distances,” said a commuter.

Mofiz Ahmed, joint commissioner of police, (traffic south), told The Independent: “Despite the risks involved, human haulers are operating because of the reality of the situation.”

“We are monitoring these human haulers strictly, and anyone flouting traffic rules are strictly dealt with,” he said.

He also said that these human haulers usually travelled using the by-lanes, avoiding the main roads of Dhaka. “In these cases, the number of accidents is low. Human haulers cause less traffic jams than rickshaws,” he added.

He, however, skirted the issue of unskilled and unlicensed drivers.  

He said that the reality of traffic jams should be kept in mind in judging the role of this vehicle. “We have a little relaxed attitude towards the human hauler movement, considering the number of passengers they carry and fare benefits they offer in a congested city like Dhaka,” he added.

Despite the risks, the movement of human haulers on the streets of Dhaka is notable. Many passengers ignore the risks and tend to look more at the advantages.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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