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Rickshaw-free roads stuck on polls factor
Rafiq Hasan, The Daily Star

Dhaka: The government has retreated from its earlier decision to make eight important roads in the capital off-limits to rickshaws and non-motorised vehicles, apparently not to irk the electorate before the coming elections.

At a meeting of the National Road Transport Advisory Council, Communications Minister Nazmul Huda yesterday told the transport owners that the government's decision to make those roads rickshaw-free will not be implemented before the next general elections, meeting sources said.

The decision to make eight important city roads free from rickshaws and other non-motorised vehicles was taken at the suggestions of the World Bank.

However, among the eight roads, the road from Science Laboratory to Bangabazar was made off-limits to rickshaws before the Saarc Summit.

Highway crimes could not be prevented due to inactivity of highway police, the meeting observed, while the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police (Highways) Sajjad Hossain said only 557 out of 2000 sanctioned police personnel have been posted as the highway police and there is also lack of equipment for checking highway crimes.

The meeting decided to set up 41 permanent camps of highway police on important routes to check rough driving, bring discipline and reduce accidents on the roads.

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) agreed to allocate lands and decided to start the process of handing over after consultation with the home ministry, meeting sources said.

DIG Sajjad Hossain said the BRTA should simplify the driving licence giving process. About 90 per cent drivers carry fake licence, mainly due to hassles in getting a genuine one.

The inspector general of police, divisional commissioners, BRTA and BRTC chairmen, high officials of RHD and other officials concerned were present at the meeting presided over by Communications Minister Nazmul Huda.

The wrong mileage measurements of different routes by the RHD have caused problems for the transport owners and workers following the recent transport fare hike, the meeting was told.

To investigate the matter, the meeting formed a seven-member enquiry committee comprising representatives from the RHD, BRTA, BRTC, transport owners and workers.

The meeting also expressed dissatisfaction over slow progress of the construction of Dhaka bypass allegedly due to inefficiency of the construction firm owned by a ruling party MP. The communications minister asked the RHD officials to look into the matter and take steps for rapid progress of the work.

The meeting was told that 1013 village markets and illegal installations on the highways were evicted.

The transport owners demanded complete ban on plying of different locally made unsafe vehicles like Nosimon and Korimon.

The meeting also decided to put ban on parking of vehicles in front of Nandan Park in Savar.


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