Auto-rickshaw strike makes people suffer | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 13, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 13, 2012

Auto-rickshaw strike makes people suffer

11 drivers arrested for bid to create chaos

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Police yesterday detained at least 11 striking auto-rickshaw drivers and workers on charge of attempting to vandalise vehicles in the capital.
They also charged batons on the strikers to foil their scheduled rallies and processions.
A section of CNG-run auto-rickshaw drivers and workers enforced the strike for an indefinite period from Wednesday to press home their 10-point demand, especially to bring an end to overcharging by auto-rickshaw owners.
The city dwellers suffered heavily as a few auto-rickshaws operated on streets yesterday. Buses were seen overcrowded while taxicab drivers charged extra fares from commuters.
MA Jalil, inspector (investigation) of Shahbagh Police Station, said four auto-rickshaw drivers and workers were held in front of the Jatiya Press Club while the rest from Purana Paltan intersection in connection with the strike.
“We have detained them around 12:30pm as they were trying to create panic among the masses by vandalising auto-rickshaws that were operating on streets defying the strike,” Jalil said.
However, auto-rickshaw drivers claimed that the law enforcers detained at least 100 protesters from different parts in the city including Bijoynagar, Shyampur, Muktangon and Press Club areas.
At least seven workers were injured in police action when they were trying to bring out a procession as part of their scheduled programme, workers' leaders alleged.
“Police suddenly attacked our gathering without any provocation, though we were trying to bring out a peaceful procession around 10:30am,” alleged Zakir Hossain, general secretary of Dhaka Zila Auto-Rickshaw Sramik Union.
Dhaka Auto Rickshaw Shramik Union general secretary Md Hanif and Lal Miah, a worker, were among the wounded, said Zakir.
“Despite torture and harassment, we will continue the strike until our demands are met,” he continued.
According to the government fixed rate, auto-rickshaw owners are allowed to charge Tk 600 daily as deposit money. But the owners charge between Tk 750 and Tk 1,300, Zakir claimed.
The 10-point demand of the auto-rickshaw drivers and workers include cancellation of route permit system, setting up of parking spaces for auto-rickshaws, easing the licence issuing process and compensating auto-rickshaw drivers in case of injuries in accidents.
On June 24, the associations submitted memoranda to different ministries concerned and to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) over their demands. They also gave an ultimatum until Tuesday to fulfil those.
When asked about overcharging, ATM Nazmul Hasan, general secretary of Dhaka Mohanagar CNG-auto rickshaw Owners Association, said, “It is not possible for auto-rickshaw owners to follow the government fixed rate as the price of engine parts and daily commodities have increased considerably.”
He, however, denied charging double the government fixed rate.
“We charge Tk 700, which is Tk 100 more than the government fixed rate. If there is any allegation of charging more than Tk 700, we will surely take action,” Nazmul added.

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