IT IS unacceptable that scrapping, and replacing, of CNG-run auto-rickshaws that have expired their lifespan in Dhaka and Chittagong cities is yet to start in full swing. Officials said that the scrapping of the expired auto-rickshaws was supposed to begin on April 12. But this has been suspended for a few days in the capital. The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, as New Age reported on Thursday, sent a letter of request to the road transport ministry following a request from owners to allow expired auto-rickshaws to run in the cities before replacement. In all, 8,465 auto-rickshaws have been set for replacement and scrapping since this April as their economic lifespan expired by 2017. A BRTA director said that three days after initiating the process in April, owners filed a writ petition with the High Court against the move. The court, however, rejected the writ petition on Monday. The vehicles at stake were first introduced in Dhaka and Chittagong with a lifespan of nine years in 2002.
In 2011, the authorities extended the lifespan by two more years. After the experts had examined the vehicles, the lifespan was again extended by four years. In the past 15 years, the lifespan of these auto-rickshaws has been extended by fulfilling some conditions which include — testing hydraulic pressure of high-pressure cylinders at approved workshops and checking other parts of the fuel system. Regrettably, the conditions are fulfilled on paper. BUET experts showed how emission from an old vehicle can have a negative impact on the environment. Representatives from the Passengers’ Welfare Association of Bangladesh suggested that the overhauled vehicles are not only at higher risk of causing road accidents, but also cause serious noise pollution. In view of that, the responsibility now devolves on the government to pay attention to road safety and environmental concerns before making the final decision on the extension of these auto-rickshaws. The lifespan of the overhauled vehicles were extended in the past exposing passengers to enormous risk without heeding the observation of rights groups that the government is only ensuring profit margins of vehicle owners. In order to gain the trust of people of the city, the authorities concerned should abstain from hurriedly making a decision on the matter. Instead, they should make an arrangement of thorough examination of run-down CNG-run auto-rickshaws.
The government needs to take into account the passenger safety and environmental concerns first, then abandon its alleged alliance with the owners’ association, and finally embark on the process of scrapping and replacing these overhauled auto-rickshaws.
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