Rickshaw Ban: Pullers carry on protests in Bangladesh

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - The protesters block roads for 6 hrs; commuters suffer in Dhaka.

City dwellers yesterday suffered for the second consecutive day as several thousand rickshaw-pullers blocked sections of Rampura-Kuril road to protest the ban on rickshaws on three major streets in the capital.

Office-goers, students and women were the worst sufferers of the six-hour-long blockade that started around 7:00am.

WATCH: Rickshaw-pullers lift block from Dhaka streets

Emdadul Huq, 65, is a heart patient and he had to walk about two kilometres from Goran to Shahjahanpur intersection as he failed to find any means of transport.

“Banning rickshaw was an odd decision. The government should hold discussions with the rickshaw pullers and owners,” he said. 

On July 3, a special committee led by Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon decided that three major streets would be made off-limits to rickshaws, in a bid to ease traffic congestion in the areas.

The roads are Kuril to Sayedabad via Rampura and Khilgaon; Gabtoli to Azimpur via Asad Gate; and Science Laboratory intersection to Shahbagh intersection.

Yesterday, the protesters halted traffic movement on Khilgaon and Rampura road by setting fire on torn clothes, creating barricades with bamboos and forming human barriers.

Ayesa Khatun, who was taking her daughter to Motijheel Govt Girls’ School from Goran, told The Daily Star, “There is no direct transport service except for rickshaw. We have walked about 45 minutes to cover only half of the distance.” 

She also said they would face huge sufferings if the government fails to introduce any alternative means of transport.

One of the protesters Abdul Motaleb, termed the authority’s decision discriminatory, saying “Each member of rich families owns a car. Aren’t these too responsible for traffic jam?” he added.

The ban will also put an impact on road-side food shops where rickshaw pullers used to have breakfast and lunch.

On the other hand, after the ban on rickshaws significant change in traffic congestion is seen in New Market area of the capital today.

Asiya Akter, a food vendor, said she had lost some 40 customers who are rickshaw pullers and used to have lunch in her stall.

“They had not been able to pay me for the two days as they have no income. So I also came down to the road to support them,” she said.

Greater Dhaka North and South City Corporation Rickshaw and Van Owner Oikya Parishad Convener Mamtaz Uddin Majumdar said they would continue their protest until their demand was met.

Contacted, DSCC Mayor said, “Creating blockade on roads and making people suffer is not acceptable.”

“I’ll invite them [protesters] to discuss the issue and find a solution,” he added.