Commuters in Dhaka city are suffering from acute public transport crisis amidst the ongoing Traffic Week of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. Many vehicles are not plying on the city roads fearing punishment as they don’t have license. Taking advantage of the situation, drivers of CNG-run auto-rickshaws are charging extra fare from the passengers.
Passengers said, the CNG drivers seldom go by the fare fixed by the government. The situation improved a little with the introduction of the ride-sharing apps, but the number of vehicles decreased in the city when the students launched demonstrations demanding road safety last week.
The passengers, especially women, are the worst sufferers of the situation. Almost all the CNG drivers charge extra fare than the one shown on the metre. Worse, they often refuse to go to the desired destination of the passengers.
A passenger named Salma Ahmed said, she paid Tk 250 for coming to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Hospital from Dhanmondi Road No 7 while the fare is Tk 130 according to the metre.
The government in 2015 fixed the fare of CNG-run auto-rickshaw. As per the decision, the driver has to pay the owners Tk 900 per day. The fare is Tk 40 for the first two kilometres, Tk 12 for each kilometre after the first two and Tk 2 per minute for waiting period.
Asked about the reason for flouting the government fixed fares and not going by metre, CNG driver Jamal Mia said, the auto-rickshaw is not allowed to ply on many city roads. Moreover they have many expenses that are not possible to meet when they go by metres.
Dhaka Metropolitan CNG Autorickshaw Owners' Association president Barkat Ullah said, the number of CNG autorickshaws has decreased as many are being re-registered, which takes around one month.
He agreed that the drivers are charging extra fares as the overall number of public transport providing vehicles has lessened.
Bangladesh Passengers Welfare Association’s secretary general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said the passengers are lone sufferers of the irregularities in the public transport sector. Whenever there is shortage of public transport providing vehicles, the drivers charge extra fares, holding the passengers hostage.