Monday, March 28, 2011

Protesting rickshaw drivers rampage city in Bangladesh

SALEEM SAMAD

RICKSHAW DRIVERS have gone on a rampage in capital Dhaka and vandalized over 100 vehicles during protest against a police decision to make the human-pedaled out of bounds on the city streets.

The angry drivers protested against the city authority’s move to off-limit to rickshaws, in a bid to ease the chronic clogged streets during rush hours.

Morning traffic in the capital came to a halt on Monday during the protest by the half a million three-wheelers rickshaw drivers and owners association.

The sudden enforcement by city authority to off-limit rickshaws in certain city streets caught nearly a million commuters off guard. Thousands of students and others going to workplace were stranded in the streets, when city shuttle buses are inadequate.

Rickshaw-pullers came to the streets in the morning and marched through the city streets demanding withdrawal of the restriction.

Sporting banners, wearing red headbands by agitating rickshaw drivers, the protesters assembled at designated square area from different corners of the city. They argued that making city streets off-limits to rickshaws have affected their meager income, they said and urged the government to cancel the decision.

Police officer Shibli Noman told online news agency banglanews.com that the irate rickshaw drivers damaged over 50 rickshaws and scores of vehicles causing huge traffic jam.

Rickshaw still remains prime mode of transport in this mega-city. While mass transit remains a far-fetched dream for some 15 million people living in the capital.

Advocates explain that rickshaws as most environment friendly mode of transport, which does not consuming fuel, imported with had-earned foreign currency. [ENDS]

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and politics. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com