Reminders on auto-rickshaw fare rules fall on deaf earsShahin Akhter
The CNG-run auto-rickshaw owners and drivers in the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong where they operate continue charging extra from the commuters despite the authorities’ repeated reminder to follow the metre-based fare rules.
Being forced to pay much above the fare shown on the metre in the auto-rickshaws has now become a daily hassle for the commuters in these two cities.
Mahmuda Dina, a Dhanmondi resident, who went from home to BRAC University at Mohakhali on Wednesday, paid Tk 220 for her auto-rickshaw ride.
‘But the driver put the metre on because he was afraid of being caught for fare rule violation,’ Dina said, ‘and as I reached the spot I saw it was only Tk 95 shown on the metre.’
Najmul Hassan, a Kalyanpur resident, said he came to Karwan Bazar from home on Saturday and had to pay Tk 30 extra with the fare indicated on the metre.
‘You’re never going to get a CNG [auto-rickshaw] to carry you for the metre fare,’ he said.
According to the updated chart issued by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority about CNG-run auto-rickshaw fares and deposits, Tk 25 will be charged for up to 2 kilometres, Tk 7.64 for subsequent each kilometre, Tk 1.30 per minute waiting charge, and daily deposit Tk 600.
Facing the hikes in fuel prices, the BRTA twice updated the chart in 2011, first on May 16 and then again on September 18, which is still in force.
The situation is same in the Chittagong city also as our Chittagong correspondent said the commuters were regularly forced to pay extra fares. In most cases the CNG-run auto-rickshaws do not either put the metres on while carrying passengers.
Dhaka Metropolitan CNG, Auto Rickshaws and Mishuk Drivers Union general secretary Shakhawat Hossain Dulal, admitted that they were charging much more than what was approved in the fare chart but shifted the blame to the owners, accusing them of grossly violating the law.
‘We are forced to pay Tk 700-800 just for one shift while they can take Tk 600 only for the full day, according to the law’ he said.
He also complained that most owners in the capital were running their vehicles in two shifts a day that brought them Tk 1400-1600 a day.
The owners typically deny either allegation.
‘We do not collect more than what has been fixed by the BRTA now do we run the vehicles on two shifts,’ said Faridul Islam Khasru, general secretary of Dhaka Metropolitan CNG Auto Rickshaw Business Owners Association.
‘Why isn’t the government taking action against these errant drivers?’ he asked.
Nazrul Islam, secretary of Chittagong Baby Taxi and Tempo Drivers and Assistants’ Union, claims they charge extra fares less than their Dhaka fellows do.
He also complained that the owners took at least Tk 100 more than the daily deposit fixed by the BRTA.
Like their Dhaka fellows, auto-rickshaw owners in Chittagong also deny the allegation.
‘But the drivers do not switch the metres on because most of them have not been calibrated after the BRTA hiked the fares last,’ said Haider Azam Chowdhury, secretary of the Chittagong Metropolitan Auto Rickshaw Owners Association.
But the everyday experience of the dwellers of the two cities show the auto-rickshaw drivers or owners hardly follow any rules made for them probably except that the vehicles must be painted green.
According to a notice the transport regulator put on the national dailies in September 20-21, the CNG-run auto-rickshaw owners and drivers must follow the CNG/Petrol-driven Four Stroke 3-wheeler Service Policy, 2007, that lays out the conditions — follow the government fixed rate, display fare chart on the vehicle, carry passengers wherever they want in the city, including shortest distance, wait for passengers at designated stands, paint the vehicle green, and exhibit the word ‘Hire’ when carrying passengers.
The notice also reminds that the metres must be in a functioning state and the owner or driver will run the risk of losing licence if the metre is found tampered or not properly adjusted.
BRTA deputy director (enforcement) AKM Shamim Akhter told New Age on Saturday that they had already sent letters to the offices of the district administration and Dhaka Metropolitan Police for assistance in monitoring.
The monitoring department of the regulator lacks staff with only one executive magistrate at its disposal.
‘We recent notice on the dailies is part of our regular monitoring and we do it to remind the owners and drivers of the rules,’ Shamim Akhter added.
According to the BRTA, 13,000 CNG-run auto rickshaws are operating in Dhaka and another 13,000 in Chittagong.
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