Associations flourish on Illegal registration
An illegal rickshaw registration business continues to thrive in the capital under the very nose of Dhaka City Corporation (DCC).
Numerous organised groups under the banner of rickshaw owner's and puller's associations with the connivance of DCC officials have been making a fortune by selling fake rickshaw registrations to owners of illegal rickshaws in the city.
There have been allegations that the so-called associations involved in this illegal business of fake registrations flourished under the wings of major political parties. The association leaders designate a particular area for a rickshaw while handing over the fake registration plate and they ensure that the law enforcers do not harass the puller of that particular unauthorised rickshaw.
Monirul Islam from Agargaon, owner of nine rickshaws, told Star City that eight of his rickshaws were plying without any harassment in Agargaon and Pallabi areas with registration plates provided by the association leaders. He collected five of those from Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Rickshaw-Van Malik Sramik Samannay Parishad, a wing of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Monirul had collected other two fake registration plates from the Bangladesh Rickshaw-Van Malik Sramik Sangram Parishad housed on the third floor of 23 Bangabandhu Avenue, office of Bangladesh Awami League (AL).
Both associations claimed that the registration numbers had been issued against proposed registration numbers issued by DCC. Numbers of the proposed DCC registrations claimed by the leaders of these two associations however were not the same.
According to Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Rickshaw-Van Malik Sramik Samannay Parishad, the proposed DCC-issued registration numbers are 55,000, while the other association claimed it to be 43,000 including 35,000 rickshaws and 8,000 rickshaw-vans.
Abdur Rahman from Rupnagar in Pallabi is owner of 23 rickshaws. He said the registrations provided by the associations cost between Tk 300 and Tk 500 for three months. "The association arranges the release of any rickshaw seized by law-enforcers during the covered three-month period," he said, adding, "It is risky for rickshaws with fake registrations to ply the streets after the three-month validity is over." Moreover, the association will not be responsible if the rickshaws are seized outside the designated territory, Abdur Rahman said.
After doing some investigations, it was found that several rickshaws were plying with the same registration plate and document. The registration holder keeps the 'blue book' (paper document of registration) and rents out fake tin registration plates and other documents. These registration holders collect a one-time security deposit of Tk 2000 and a minimum of Tk 200 monthly rental for the tin plate and the documents.
When asked about the rickshaw registration plate forgery, Insur Ali, coordinator of the Bangladesh Rickshaw-Van Malik Sramik Sangram Parishad told Star City that various unscrupulous quarters of rickshaw traders in collaboration with a number of DCC officials have been forging registration plates and documents.
Syed Jahangir, chief of Wheel Branch of DCC, told Star City that DCC has been conducting drives against the forgery rings. Any rickshaw without registration number issued by the DCC is unauthorised, he added.
He said despite unauthorised rickshaw seizures, numbers of unauthorised rickshaws have been increasing as the owners are putting more new rickshaws on the roads regularly. "We are not involved with fake rickshaw registrations and we are always against any illegal activities," he added.
According to Wheel Branch, there are79,000 authorised rickshaw registrations in the city. In reality, about four lakh rickshaws are plying in the city.
On issue of unauthorised rickshaw registrations provided by associations, Fazlur Rahman, convenor of the Bangladesh Rickshaw-Van Malik Sramik Oikya Parishad, said the DCC failed to maintain a concrete system for the rickshaw sector and that gave rise to various problems including fake registrations, controlling the increase of rickshaws and curbing rickshaw thieves.
Aminur, a rickshaw puller from Rupnagar, told Star City that pulling an unauthorised rickshaw is perilous for a puller as well. "My rickshaw owner forcefully collected the full cost of a rickshaw from me when the authority seized a rickshaw I was pulling as he failed to recover the vehicle even through the association leaders. I do not like pulling an unauthorised rickshaw after that incident, but I am helpless."