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Teenage drivers of human haulers and enforcement of labour law

Published: 00:00, Aug 18,2020

 
 

‘It is often noticed that the police rely on human haulers to transport prisoners. Therefore, it is not surprising that these vehicles are plying the road every day.’

 

Human haulers, popularly known as Leguna, are running on different routes of the capital with many underage drivers behind the wheel.  More often than one expects, accidents happen due to the presence of these unskilled and underage drivers on the road. Since there are not adequate transports for the movement of police officer, according to national daily reports, they regularly rent human haulier.

The national labour law is theoretically there for the protection of workers, but they don’t seem to protect the workers of human hauler. According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, the number of Leguna operating in Dhaka is around 5,033. Many children are working as drivers or an assistant to the driver. In most cases, vehicle owners don’t bother about the question of underage driving. These Leguna’s are mostly without fitness certificate and the drivers are generally unlicensed. The owners care very little to supervise the operation of Leguna on the road and regularly appoint adolescent boys as drivers or helpers. Even though it is forbidden under the labour law in Bangladesh, not many seems to raise concern about the employment of underage driver. According to the Road Transport Act, no one under the age of eighteen can work as a conductor but unfortunately they are driving human hauler in the capital. It is often noticed that the police rely on human haulers to transport prisoners. Without the action from the police, these vehicles are plying the road every day. According to the Children Act 2013, everyone under the age of eighteen is treated as a child and the labour law defines the child as a person who has not completed fourteenth years of age and an adolescent is someone between the ages of 14-18-years. The law clearly states that no one under the age of eighteen can be employed in any profession. In reality, children are employed in informal sectors violating the above mentioned laws.

According to the labour law, if any question arises as to whether any person is a child or adolescent then it is mandatory to resolve by showing birth registration certificate. It is not an uncommon scene on our roads when a child is trying to fix an overheated engine of a Laguna. The labour law however prohibits involving any adolescent to clean the machines or any engine. The labour law also has the provision for employers to include a child over the age of 12, but after ensuring their education. In these situation following actions can be taken to improve the situation: 1) Any employer who recruit a child as driver or helper violating the existing law must be punished and passengers should also play a role in this regard; 2) The government should set-up night shift schools, a counselling centre for children who are compelled to earn for their economic survival; 3) The enforcement of related laws must also be ensured.

Shahriar Islam Shovon

Dhaka

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