POST TIME: 13 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
3-wheelers defy ban to ply on Dhaka-Tangail highway
Our Correspondent, Tangail

3-wheelers defy ban to ply on Dhaka-Tangail highway

This recent photo shows three-wheelers plying the Dhaka-Tangail Highway, defying a ban on the movement of such vehicles on highways. INDEPENDENT PHOTO

Three-wheelers have been dominating the Dhaka-Tangail highway on Bangabandhu Bridge in violation of a strict ban. They hinder the smooth movement of long-distance vehicles and are often behind fatal road accidents. Highway police are unable to control the menace.

Sources say there are about 5,000 CNG-run autos registered with the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) in Tangail. But those in the know say about 25,000 such autos operate in the district.

According to Tangail municipality sources, the authorities have permitted 3,000 battery-driven autos in two shifts. But their number is said to have crossed 10,000. Besides CNG- and battery-driven autos, there are many battery-powered vans, Nasimon-Karimon, 10-seater Mahindra and other types of three-wheelers in the district, plying in defiance of the ban. It is alleged that CNG-autos run on the important highway using tokens issued by traffic police.

Earlier, drivers of slow-moving three-wheelers used to collect tokens from the police, which gave the permission to travel on highways. They have preserved such tokens and flaunting them in different areas to circumvent the ban.

The movements of theree-wheelers are occasionally controlled by traffic police. Most of the time they move freely, slowing down all long-distance vehicles and frequently causing road accidents. They are seen from 9am till after 8pm on the highways.

Three-wheeler drivers Majnu, Hakim, and Rashed of the Tangail bus station, Illias and Rafiqul of Bhuapur, Russel of Sakhipur, and Mohammad Ali of Pakulla said there was no designated lane on the side of the highways for their vehicles. They said they take serious risks by driving on the highway to fulfil passengers’ wishes. Otherwise, they said, they would lose their livelihood.

At times, police seize the autos. They have to cough up as much as Tk. 8,000 to free the vehicles. To free a seized unregistered auto, the money demanded can be anything between Tk. 10,000-15,000. Moreover, they make monthly payments to police through their association to ply on highways.

The auto drivers said they also face difficulties when it comes to filling gas as the pumps are situated by the side of the highways. So, they have to pay policemen to get on to the highway to reach a filling station.

“We have to use the highway while going to Tangail town. There is no alternative road. Municipality authorities have introduced red and blue autos to ply in two shifts. If we stop using the highway completely, our livelihood will be at stake. In that case, we will not be able to earn more than Tk. 100 taka a day,” said one of them.

The drivers alleged that police sometimes impound their vehicle keys even in the municipality area. “We have to pay even in such cases. Autos without number plates plying on roads and highways have to pay Tk. 200 per month to traffic police through our association,” said one of the drivers.

Madhupur police station officer-in-charge (OC) Shafiqul Islam said that they had seized 13 CNG-autos ahead of Eid-ul-Azha. "Most of these vehicles were without registration," he added.

When the OC asked the drivers concerned why did they not register their vehicles, one of them said that Tangail district has the capacity to register 5,000 CNG-autos. But their number has crossed 25,000 and so the authorities have stopped registering, he told the OC.

Tangail district Auto rickshaw-CNG-tempo Sramik Union secretary Aminur Rahman said: “We're with the government in putting a ban on the plying of autos on the highway. We instructed the drivers not to use that route. But we want separate lanes for slow-moving vehicles by the sides of the highway."

He also demanded the issue of more licenses for CNG autos.

Gorai highway police OC AKM Kawser told The Independent that police do not allow any three-wheelers on the highway. Traffic police and highway police have been discharging duties round the clock for smooth movement of vehicles on the highways, he claimed. Traffic inspector of Tangail, Rafiqul Islam, said that only a few may escape the eyes of the police and ply on highways.