THE presence of unregistered battery-run three-wheelers, known as ‘easy bikes’, on roads in the capital city and, in some cases, on highways continue to cause concern as they run in breach of bans ordered by the authorities concerned and add to the risk of traffic accidents, significantly accounting for fatal accidents. In the latest such incident, a young boy died after he had been hit by a battery-run three-wheeler in the Beribandh area at Kamrangirchar on Friday morning, which prompted local people to go on demonstration and block the road. In the latest round, the road transport and bridges minister on October 15 asked all authorities concerned to halt the movement of auto-rickshaws and non-motorised vehicles on main roads. The road transport and bridges minister on August 1, 2015 ordered a ban on the movement of three-wheelers and non-motorised vehicles on national highways. The home affairs ministry on November 22, 2010 directed all divisional commissioners to keep unregistered vehicles off roads and highways. The High Court on August 3, 2015 also asked the government and the police to keep unfit motor vehicles off the road. Battery-run three-wheelers are unfit for roads because of their structural flaws that make them less stable compared with other vehicles.
Statistics available with the Accident Research Institute show that three-wheelers accounted for 8 per cent of fatal accidents in the Dhaka district in 2019 and for 13 per cent of fatal accidents across Bangladesh. A report of the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh, released this August, shows that battery-run rickshaws and three-wheelers accounted for 9.77 per cent of fatal accidents across Bangladesh. The vehicles in question run into accidents as the three-wheelers do not conform to any standards and are less stable. Even after all this, such vehicles run on the road or people keep using such vehicles because, as experts believe, people have no other options but to ride them. The propositions bring to the fore a few points for the authorities concerned to consider. They need to restrict the plying of such vehicles to lanes and by-lanes that do not have heavy and fast-running traffic. They could altogether stop the plying of such vehicles if they cannot modify them keeping to standard vehicle specifications so that they entail less risk of accidents. But what remains an important task for the government to do, if it wants to restrict or altogether ban the plying of such vehicles, is to improve the public transport system so that people have options and they do not suffer if such vehicles are banned once and for all.
The authorities concerned must have people’s lives as a priority on their agenda in streamlining the public transport sector. They must, at least for now, restrict the movement of risky battery-run three-wheelers to lanes and by-lanes. But the government must finally improve the public transport system before it does away with such unregistered battery-run three-wheelers.
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