The National Rickshaw-Van Sramik League and other leaders under different banners have postponed their ongoing protest against the recent decision to ban rickshaws and vans plying on certain city main roads.
The decision came on Wednesday following an assurance from the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday who said she would direct concerned authorities to create a separate lanes to facilitate plying rickshaws and vans.
The General Secretary of National Rickshaw-Van Sramik League Insur Ali told Bangladesh Post, “We will submit an application requesting the PM to withdraw the decision on banning the rickshaw-van from plying on certain city roads.”
He also said that they don’t mind if the authorities take measures to identify and seize all the illegal rickshaws and vans.
He, however, said, “It would be a suicidal decision to ban all the rickshaws (legal) as many poor people are directly dependent on for earning from pulling vans and rickshaws .”
Meanwhile, during visits on Wednesday rickshaws and vans were not found plying on roads stretching from Mirpur Road to Elephant Road despite the sufferings of the passengers. A few rickshaws, nevertheless, were available on the streets of Dhanmondi, Kalabagan, Asadgate, Shyamoli, Science Lab and Kataban areas.
This reporter spoke to many of the rickshaw pullers who complained that their daily earnings declined due to the recent ban imposed in the city main thoroughfares.
Bacchu Miah, a rickshaw puller plying on Dhanmandi Road 3 said, “I used to earn at least Tk 500 a day on average carrying passengers using the main roads of Dhanmandi which are now closed. The daily earning has now drastically reduced to less than Tk 200.”
A fellow rickshaw puller, Shahadat Hossain said, “There are too many rickshaw pullers in much smaller spaces (referring to banning of the main roads). Rickshaws are now squeezed in and confined only on inner lanes of Dhanmadi and due to a competition we are earning less than what we used to do before.”
The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka Transport Control Authority (DTCA) jointly decided to ban rickshaws and vans.
According to an estimate provided by the rickshaw pullers and their owners, around 50 thousand rickshaws are plying on these three roads. If rickshaw and vans regularly ply on these roads in two shifts, the number of pullers associated with it is about one hundred thousand.
A large number of these rickshaw and van pullers have been dependent on the capital Dhaka for livelihood. The protesters said that they earn on average Tk 600 on 12 hourly shifts.
Meanwhile, in their greater movement, the rickshaw pullers had protested on Tuesday and Monday against the rickshaw ban in the capital.
As a result of the street movement, severe traffic congestion was created on all main roads of the city, particularly in Bangla Motor, Shahjahanpur, Shantinagar, Kakrail, Nayapaltan, and Gulshan areas.