CNG-run auto-rickshaws, one of the fastest means of commuting in the city and elsewhere, exposes passengers to high risks of getting robbed or mugged due to the lock system of these small vehicles that is solely in control of the driver.
Although the netted door of CNG-run auto-rickshaws saves the passengers from being mugged by the outsiders, the ill motive of the drivers could put them at risk as the passengers can’t open the doors on their own.
Debunking the metered bill system introduced by the government, CNG-run auto-rickshaw drivers often charge exorbitant fares from commuters, many passengers claimed.
Moreover, many unauthorised CNG-run auto-rickshaws ply on the city streets. The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered privately-owned auto-rickshaws make the situation worse as these vehicles do not have any meter for fare. These auto-rickshaws are not permitted to carry passengers but they do.
This mode of transport has become popular among the city dwellers especially office goers as it is often rented by them who do not have private cars. But, the increased risks, fare jeopardy and tensions are diverting the people from hiring the vehicle.
Bhumika Mahmud, a regular commuter of CNG-run auto rickshaws told Bangladesh Post, “Every time drivers take a turn into an unknown alley, unpleasant scenarios start lurking in my mind.”
Another commuter who was mugged a few months ago in a CNG-run auto-rickshaw said, “The fear of being robbed or mugged is always in the back of my head when inside the caged space of CNG-run auto-rickshaw during my daily office trip.”
While this lock system and caged space make the experience of journey distressing for the passengers, the drivers claim otherwise.
Delwar Hossain, a CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver, said that not having the lock system in their control would increase the risk of being robbed.
“Anyone can get into my auto-rickshaw any time if the door is in control of the passengers. Sometimes passengers also get down without paying fare,” he told Bangladesh Post.
However, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) sources do not pay much heed to this matter.
Sheikh Md Mahbub-E-Rabbani, Director (Road Safety) of BRTA told Bangladesh Post that most of the transports’ doors are controlled by the drivers. There is nothing to worry and declined to comment further on this issue.
Transport experts have also expressed their concern over the issue.
Highlighting many other issues regarding CNG-run auto-rickshaws, Moazzem Hossain, Professor of BUET's Civil Engineering department and also a transport expert, said that the CNG-run auto-rickshaws are becoming risky and costly day by day.
“The auto-rickshaw drivers are charging arbitrary fare in the capital ignoring the meter system and violating the rules. The authorities concerned should immediately take necessary steps in this regard,” he said.
He added that the people of our country should not be traveling in the caged spaces of CNG-run auto-rickshaws paying high fare and tension of losing their belongings.