Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 54, Tuesday February 10, 2009















Carry each other

It is common practice for us to show our displeasure at CNG auto rickshaw drivers who do not want to take us to the places we want to go. Most will identify with this experience. You are in a hurry; your temporary sanity of mind depends on whether you can get to your destination as soon as possible. In moments like this, when a CNG driver refuses to take you, it is very natural to descend into a haze of rage. I have seen people shaking the three-wheelers right and left with the driver clinging to the protective cage for dear life.

Therefore, whenever I approach a CNG, I do so with a plan in mind. Sometimes, just getting into the back without talking to the driver has proved helpful. It is easier to negotiate when you are already in the vehicle. Other times, I have been more aggressive in demanding that he take me where I want to go. I am a paying customer, for god sake!

But once you start talking to them, you will realize that things are not as simple as the drivers just being snooty for the sake of it. “On an average day, we earn about Tk 1200 - 1400 from fares. From that, about Tk 180 is spent on refuelling, about Tk 100 we spend on ourselves, and we have to pay Tk 650 to the person we hire the vehicle from. This leaves about Tk 300 400, which we take back home. It is for this reason, Bhai, that we do not want to go short distances. Long distances are profitable,” said one driver who was kind enough to take me from Kakoli to Karwan Bazaar.

I myself could get into the vehicle only after promising to pay Tk 10 more than the metre fare. However, I did understand his point. At the end of the day, regardless of social status, we all try hard to support our families. As with most things in life, CNG drivers' attitudes are neither black nor white. It should not be condemned nor condoned. They face a problem, and try to solve it as they see fit. For our part, we have to deal with them in such a way that ensures both our benefits. An extra ten to be taken safely to where you want to go is not asking much, is it? Not in Dhaka.




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