‘CNG woes for commuters’
NEW Age published a letter written by a frustrated CNG vehicle user on its 5 September issue. The writer has drawn a practical picture of the problem. Indeed affordable transport service for mid-income and low-income people in the capital is almost non-existent. Most of the city dwellers depend on hired vehicles in order to commute which are extremely expensive and burdensome. Every =day they confront acute problem to move from one place to another. Once upon a time, baby-taxi (auto rickshaw) fare was affordable to mid-income and low-income group of people in this society. After 90s, the government imposed high customs duty, supplementary duty and Value Added Tax on import of auto rickshaw. In addition to all these taxes, administrative restrictions like prior permission from government for import and cumbersome registration procedures have been made the affordable auto rickshaw rides too costly. The number of auto-rickshaws has not been increased to accommodate the increase in population. Dhaka city needs about two hundred thousand auto-rickshaws now but only 21,000 have got permission from the controlling authority to ply.
When one wants to go to an examination hall, one needs a vehicle like CNG run auto-rickshaw as human-driven rickshaws are not allowed to ply on many streets in Dhaka. Taxi-cab is also rarely available and not really visible these days. Therefore, one needs an auto-rickshaw even for social events like to attend a marriage ceremony. One needs an auto-rickshaw to move a patient to a hospital. Students, especially females, need auto-rickshaws to attend their colleges or universities as the public bus service is not available in all areas of the capital, albeit the buses are also not suitable for them as they always remain over-crowded. It is dangerous for children too to ride these buses. Nowadays it becomes difficult to reach work on time without a private car. But most of the people of our country do not have the financial ability to afford a private car. Easily available CNG run auto-rickshaws could solve their problem to a large extent. Moreover, a CNG run auto-rickshaw occupies less than half of the space on the road compared to a car or a jeep.
The decision-makers of our country enjoy either personal or office vehicles, a few of them are readily available for each of them. They do not perceive the sufferings of the common people. They have imposed restrictions in various forms on CNG run auto-rickshaws in the capital. Recently, the government has introduced a few hundred public buses through BRTC but public bus service doesn’t cover all the areas in the city. Low-cost rickshaws have also been barred, in a bid to control the traffic.
Amidst the scenario, many people expect the government to reduce the import duty on CNG-run baby-taxis. It is also expected that the officials concerned would withdraw the administrative restrictions to increase the availability of these vehicles in Dhaka. It is very much necessary to withdraw supplementary duty and VAT on import of CNG-run-auto rickshaw and withdraw all administrative bottle-neck to get registration. Let demand-supply force determine the number of auto-rickshaws that will ply on city streets.
Md Ashraf Hossain
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