Ridesharing services using motorcycles are getting popular as they are said to save time in cities in grip of severe traffic tangles but untrained bikers employed under these services are often being a cause of fatal accidents.
As these bikers possess non-professional driving licence, their driving skill is not checked by any authorities.
Road accidents involving motorcycles using ridesharing apps increased in recent times, mostly for unskilled driving and not having safety gears.
On July 4, a passenger of a bike under ridesharing service Pathao was killed and the biker injured in a road accident on airport road in the capital. The passenger was not wearing helmet.
Users are regularly complaining on social media that they are being victims of accidents while using these services as the drivers are most often unskilled and do not provide them with helmets.
If the authorities do not train them and include more requirements in licence approval procedure, risk of fatal road accidents and chaos in road sector will increase, experts warn.
According to experts from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Accident Research Institute, the probability of accidents is 30 times higher in motorcycles compared with cars.
As per the existing rules, motorcyclists get driving licences in non-professional category. Besides, there are also allegations of manipulation in BRTA’s system of issuing driving licences.
Road Transport and Highways Division secretary Md Nazrul Islam said that they had no training facility for the non-professional drivers yet.
Introduced in 2016, more than 20 app-based ridesharing services like Pathao Limited, Uber Technologies Inc, Shohoz.com are getting popular, particularly in Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitan cities.
Motorcycles riding under the services have gained huge popularity as youths use bikes for mobility in time-bound life in urban areas.
Many bikers under the ridesharing companies are underage, students and service holders who take it as part time job while many use it as main source of livelihood.
Almost none of these bikers have any kind of training from any government agency or the ridesharing companies for carrying passengers.
‘From the moment I registered with Pathao, I started to carry passengers,’ said a journalist working at a private television channel.
A middle-aged biker, seeking anonymity, said he had recently left his job in an advertising company and took ridesharing service as full-time job to earn livelihood by driving motorcycles.
‘I don’t need any training as I know how to drive,’ he added.
‘I use the ridesharing service Pathao to earn my daily expenditure,’ said a student of Kabi Nazrul Government College.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority data shows that till June this year a total of 22.34 lakh motorcycles registered under the Authority while the number of valid licences for driving bikes is only 8.60 lakh.
Only at BRTA’s Mirpur circle office, daily about 70 applications are submitted seeking motorcycle driving licences while the number of such applications was almost half before the introduction of ridesharing services, according to officials.
This year till June, out of 2.36 lakh new vehicles that got registered, 1.83 lakh were motorcycles.
The average number of newly registered motorcycle per month is 30,662 this year which was 27,212 in 2017, 27,671 in 2016 and 20,029 in 2015.
The registration of motorbikes increased after the introduction of ridesharing service and decrease in the price of bikes, said BRTA assistant director for engineering Md Ibrahim Khalil.
ARI assistant professor Kazi Md Shifun Newaz said that most of the motorcyclists in Bangladesh drive recklessly violating traffic rules.
It increased the probability of accidents more as it made handling the balance of motorcycle more difficult, he added.
Transportation system expert SM Salehuddin told New Age that motorcycles should be discouraged as it increases the risks of accidents and traffic congestion.
‘Most of the bikers are young and novice, who ride bikes recklessly with no training,’ said Salehuddin, also former executive director of the then Dhaka Transport Coordination Board.
He urged the government to train these bikers and include more requirements of skills before letting them carry passengers.
Otherwise, he warned, the situation would go out of control.
Md Nazrul Islam also said that they would think about training for non-professional drivers in future.
The division was also trying to find a place near Dhaka city to build a driving training centre, he added.
RTHD officials also said that BRTA and district administrations had already been directed to take action against any irregularities such as wearing no helmets by co-riders on motorcycles.
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