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3-wheelers continue to ply highways

Published : 08 Apr 2022 10:26 PM | Updated : 09 Apr 2022 02:32 PM

Hundreds of lives perish on the highways across the country every year due to plying of illegal vehicles.

Three-wheelers, including the battery-run three-wheelers ‘easy bikes’, still continue to run on the country’s highways defying repeated ban imposed by the authorities concerned and the apex court to avoid fatal road accidents.

Modifying a High Court order, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on April 4 in a verdict imposed the ban on the three-wheeler, commonly known as easy-bike, on the highways in Bangladesh. 

Earlier, the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry and Home Affairs Ministry imposed a ban on the movement of these vehicles on highways and roads. The High Court also gave a similar directive. However, the apex court allowed the three-wheeler on all the roads across the country, except for the highways.

Despite the ban, three-wheelers, including easy-bikes, are often noticed on the highways in the country. The three-wheelers and the easy-bikes are often involved in road accidents on the highways.

As a result, the situation has turned so deadly that data compiled from media reports by Accident Research Institute (ARI) of BUET shows the number of road accidents involving three-wheelers tripled last year compared to that in 2020.

While there were 312 accidents involving three-wheelers in 2020, the number rose to 939 in 2021. 

Experts and many people who live near highways said that plying of three-wheelers on highways must be stopped to avoid road accidents. 

Mentioning frequent road accidents and fatalities on the Sylhet-Tamabil Highway that passes through his area, Mudassir Ahmed Member, a resident of Uttor Kanjor village at Dorbost under Jaintapur upazila in Sylhet, said that Tomtom (a local three-wheeler vehicle) and other kinds of vehicles of three-wheelers must be stopped on the highway to avoid tragic accidents. 

According to him and some other people of Jaintapur upazila, alongside the other highways in the country, the Sylhet-Tamabil Highway witnesses many road accidents and deaths due to a huge number of small vehicles plying the highway and a lack of monitoring by the authorities concerned.

In the latest addition, three passengers of an auto-rickshaw and a motorcycle were killed on April 6 when a bus hit them on Sylhet-Tamabil Highway at Haripur area at Jaintapur. The bus also lost control and fell into a roadside ditch, injuring several passengers.

Such accidents often happen and people lose their lives in the Jaintapur upazila part of this highway. Five people died at the spot on the highway on May 2 in 2021 after a truck ploughed into an auto-rickshaw at Ferighat area of the upazila. 

Not only on Sylhet-Tamabil highway, such accidents involving three-wheelers are taking place on other highways and roads in the country. 

Three people were killed after a sand-laden drum truck hit a battery-run easy-bike at Bhaluka upazila in Mymensingh on April 7. An elderly man was killed in a road accident on the Kalaiya-Boga Highway at Bhupal upazila in Patuakhali on April 5. The accident took place after a Tomtom collided with an easy-bike on the highway.

Experts and road safety campaigners said that the number of small vehicles like easy-bikes have increased on the highways. As a result, many accidents happen on the highways, said Prof Md Hadiuzzaman, director of BUET’s Accident Research Institute (ARI).  

He said that the highways are notorious for fatalities. The drivers of trucks and buses often go for reckless driving causing serious accidents, but accidents increased after introduction of battery-run easy-bikes on the highways. Despite the ban, the easy-bike is often noticed on the highways, he added. 

According to the Road Transport Act-2018, no one is allowed to operate faulty, risky, banned or restricted vehicles on roads and highways or issue permission to operate them. Nasimon, Karimon, Bhatbhati, easy-bikes, battery-run rickshaws and vans are specified as such vehicles under the section.

The Road Transport and Bridges Ministry in 2019 formed a 12-member committee to recommend measures for controlling these vehicles. Following the recommendations made by the committee, the ministry in November last year prepared a draft regulatory guideline. However, the draft is going through a lengthy process to be functional.

Barrister Tania Amir, one of the counsels on the issue of plying easy-bikes on roads and highways, said that thousands of people’s livelihood in the country rely on these vehicles. However, the government has made a draft policy for the import, manufacture and operation of these vehicles. According to the policy, easy-bikes can’t run on the highways. 

The Appellate Division has modified the High Court order as per the government policy and after seeing this application. Now the easy-bikes can run on the other roads except the highways.

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