Vol. 5 Num 351 Wed. May 25, 2005  

Project to rehabilitate rickshawpullers

The Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) has launched a pilot project in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to help rehabilitate rickshawpullers affected by a phase by phase ban on non-motorised transports (NMT) on major city roads.

Kazi Rafiqul Alam, DAM president and chief executive, announced the programme yesterday while exchanging views with journalists of national dailies at the DAM office in Dhaka. Unesco representative in Bangladesh Wolfgang Vollmann was also present.

The training programme, which will impart literacy and skill training, began at the Vocational Training Institute for Working Children (VTIWC) of DAM at Mirpur Section 14 on May 10, the DAM chief said.

Initially 142 rickshawpullers between the ages of 18 to 30 years will undergo training in a project titled, 'Literacy and Skill Training for Rickshawpullers for Alternative Employment Project, ' Rafiqul Alam added.

DAM signed a contract with Unesco to conduct the project from March 10 to October 27 this year.

During his address, Unesco representative Wolfgang Vollmann described that his organisation conceived the pilot project in line with its commitment to cooperate with the government and people to achieve 'Education for All.'

Having examined the situation of rickshawpullers over several months, the UN organisation helped launch the programme with the triple objectives of training and education, gathering knowledge on how to address the needs of affected rickshawpullers, and making the experience and lessons learnt available to all stakeholders, especially the government, major donors and international and national NGOs.

The trainees were selected from rickshawpullers residing in Mirpur sections 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 2.

The programme preceeded a full-scale study conducted by the Research and Planning Division of DAM on 527 rickshawpullers of the Mirpur area from October 24 to December 30, 2004. All opted for switching over to the other job, which encouraged DAM to undertake the project.

While visiting the Vocational Training Institute for Working Children (VTIWC) at Mirpur, journalists found 30 rickshawpullers undertaking training in Electrical House Wiring trade, 30 in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, 20 in Audio-Video, 30 in Dress making and Tailoring, 10 in Embroidery, 10 in Food Processing and 20 in Block Batik.

The VTIWC director, Engr A K Md Wahidul Hoque, described that the training is imparted for three hours daily, six days a week, while transport facilities and conveyance have been arranged for the trainees.