‘Vehicle mafia’ cripples Sylhet traffic

Published : 08 Oct 2021 07:36 PM | Updated : 09 Oct 2021 05:51 PM

There are numerous illegal stands of microbuses, private cars and CNG-powered auto-rickshaws across the city of Sylhet. Vehicles are being kept on both sides of many roads. As a result, people are suffering in hour-long traffic jams in these places every day. Besides, new stands are being set up besides various centers including hospitals and hotels. When it comes to evicting illegal stands, the people of the administration including the people's representatives are being attacked. Many people think that the city dwellers are a kind of hostage to the transport workers.

There are two car and microbus stands around the Chauhatta point in the city which is usually the busiest road. The junction of the four roads is Amberkhana Point in Sylhet city. There are 4 CNG autorickshaw stands from Amberkhana to Majumdari.

There are four CNG stands around Court Point, the heart of the city. Besides, illegal stands are being set up on every road in the city which is being expanded. However, the Sylhet City Corporation does not have an account of how many illegal stands there are in the urban areas. There are about 150 illegal stands in the city as police officials stated.

The number of service vehicles in Sylhet city is about two hundred as per the government rule. But in reality the number of such vehicles in Sylhet city is several thousand. These vehicles are operating as illegal 'service vehicles' every day at illegal stands built by occupying roads in at least 26 places in the city. As a result, traffic jams are now a constant companion of the city dwellers.

The situation is deteriorating further a the widespread use of vehicles is now on the rise in expatriate-dominated Sylhet. Private cars in the city are also now prone to illegal car rental business. As a result, one illegal stand after another is being established rapidly. As no specific stand has been set up for these vehicles, the traffic congestion problem is not being solved and the suffering of the city dwellers is not decreasing.

The on-the-spot investigation revealed that there are 16 illegal stands in Subidbazar, Chauhatta, ShahiEidgah, Nayorpool, Shahjalal Bridge, Dhopadighirpar, Tilagarh, Kadamtali, Osmani Airport and Kumargaon, Shahparan and Chandipul areas of the city. Of these, there are 5 lights stands at VIP Road Chauhatta.

On the other hand, auto-rickshaw stands have been set up at various corners of the city including Court Point, Rangmahal Point, Amberkhana, Medical Road, Sobhanighat, Uposhahar, Tilagarh, Medina Market, Osmani Airport and 11 other stands. There are four such stands in the busiest Amber Khana area. There are illegal truck stands in front of Sobhanighat, Mendibagh, Government Pilot School, Sheikhghat, Circuit House Road, Darshandeuri and Alampur. Chauhatra-Amberkhana road, which is one of the busiest VIP roads in Sylhet. At present, at least 300 private cars and microbuses are parked on both sides of the road. These stands are controlled by separate associations.

The only children's park in Sylhet is in Dhopadighirpar area of Sylhet. But a car stand has also been set up in front of the park. There are always microbuses being parked in front of the park, causing traffic jams in the area at all times.

Another busy area of the city is Nairobi Point where a stand was built illegally for a long time occupying a part of the road. Similarly, there are four more stands in the Kadamtali area of South Surma and in the Shahjalal Bridge area, in the railway station area. Similarly, big stands have been set up in Mirabazar, Shibganj and suburban areas.

It is learned that there are separate associations to control these stands in 26 places of the city. Everyone in the association is involved with the workers' union. The money was also collected in the name of the workers' union. In order to keep cars in these stands, the associations have to pay extortion at different rates.

Such is the condition of most of the roads in the city. Auto-rickshaw and microbus stands have been built by occupying the road. There are about 50 illegal CNG-powered auto-rickshaw and microbus stands in the city. Traffic congestion is intensifying due to these illegal stands built by occupying the road. There are also allegations of increasing the rent by syndicating through stands. As a result, the passengers are suffering.

Along with transport workers' leaders, local influential and many political leaders have been accused of being involved in these illegal stands. Besides, small and illegal stands have been set up in front of various establishments including hospitals and hotels. In these places, the drivers and passengers are harassed by the stand officials if any vehicle other than the stand vehicle picks up passengers.

When contacted, Hanifur Rahman, Sylhet City Corporation’s Administrative Officer said that there were no statistics on the exact number of illegal stands in Sylhet. However, he confirmed that there were no legal stands in the Sylhet City Corporation area.

For a long time, illegal microbus stands have been set up in the Nayorpool area of the city. Upon Asked about this, ABM Zillur Rahman, councilor of ward 17, said that thestand in Nairobi has been there for a long time. As a result, pedestrians are having trouble walking on the sidewalk. The mayor is planning to move this stand from tere and set up a stand in an alternative place. Once a place is fixed, they will be taken to the stand. '

Asked about this, Sylhet City Corporation CEO Roy Chowdhury told Bangladesh Post, "Illegal stands are the main problem in the city." We will gradually remove the stands that occupy the sidewalk. If there is a place for the stand, it will be shifted there. '

Officials said that the people should play the biggest role in removing illegal stands from the city. "When the citizens will become aware of their sense of responsibility, the city will become much more organised," he said.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) of the metropolitan police Jyortimoy Sarkar told, "To my knowledge, the city's microbus and CNG-powered auto-rickshaw stands have no legitimacy."

The traffic department is working to remove these illegal stands. All kinds of work is being done in the traffic department for the comfort of pedestrians and passengers, he added.

Faisal Mahmud, the current Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) of Sylhet Metropolitan Police, is keen to remove the illegal stand in Sylhet. More than once he has taken the initiative to remove the stand. When contacted, he said, "There are about 150 illegal stands of different types of vehicles in Sylhet city area." 

As far as his knowledge, there is no other legal stand there except three bus stands and a truck stand’, he claimed.

"There is a tendency for drivers and helpers to show muscle strength," he said. That is why nothing is going to be donein this area. There is no opportunity to stand on the road, he said. According to Article 59 of the Traffic Act, no obstructioncan be created on the road. The job of traffic police is to enforce the law only if it creates obstacles. But when they try to do that, the transport workers go on strike and hurt the people.

 "We don't want people to get in trouble," he said, adding that the city corporation wanted to remove the illegal stands. 

Asked about this, Sylhet Mayor Ariful Haque Choudhurysaid, "We are also thinking about the issue. The truck terminal has already been enlarged and taken elsewhere. The central bus terminal has also been enlarged with development work. Letters have already been sent to the ministry to determine four places for small vehicles. Besides, we are taking different plans for traffic. I hope all this can be resolved soon. '

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