Five years into a High Court directive to withdraw poorly engineered three-wheelers from highways in 10 districts under Khulna division, there is no noticeable progress in this regard.
The unsafe motorised three-wheelers, locally known as Alam Sadhu, Nasimon, Karimon, Algamon, Mohendra, Bhatbhoti, 'easy-bike' and 'mini truck', cause nuisance for authorised vehicles on highways and sometimes become the cause of fatal accidents, said commuters.
The HC, following a petition, on February 10 in 2014 ordered withdrawal of these vehicles from highways of Khulna division comprising Kushtia, Meherpur, Jashore, Jhenidah, Magura, Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Narail and Chuadanga districts.
The court also directed the government authorities to take legal action against the use of such slow-moving and risk-causing vehicles on the highways.
But there has been very little impact of the ban, said several drivers of buses and trucks.
"We have to face odds as these unauthorised three-wheelers come to the highway from feeder roads, take turn or stop without any signal, which pose the risk of accidents," said a driver who runs a passenger bus on Kushtia-Dhaka highway.
"It takes around four hours to reach Khulna from Kushtia as I have to stop frequently for safety when these unauthorized vehicles appear," said Basir Uddin, driver of a passenger bus plying 130 km Kushtia-Khulna road daily.
The drivers of these vehicles often fail to follow traffic rules, which leads to road accidents that claim a number of lives every year, said locals.
As this correspondent approached Harunur Rashid, who runs three-wheeler Mohendra between Magura and Kushtia, he said, "I know about the ban but run this vehicle to earn a living. However, I always try to obey highway rules."
The law enforcers should be strict to comply with the High Court directive on the unauthorised vehicles, said Prof Mahbubul Arfin, chairman of tourism and hospitality management department at Kushtia Islamic University.
Admitting the necessity of such vehicles in some rural areas, he urged steps to minimise the manufacturing of such vehicles and limiting their use.
Contacted over phone, Kh Mahid Uddin, deputy inspector general of police (Khulna Range), said they have achieved some success in limiting the movement of unauthorised vehicles on highways in Khulna division.
"However, police have to work with limited logistics while there are a number of feeder roads connected to the highways. As many factors are involved with the issue, it will take time to see an optimum improvement," he said.
"In a meeting with the superintendents of police of 10 districts under Khulna division on January 15, I directed them to be strict so that unauthorised vehicles from the feeder roads cannot get on the highway," he added.
Bhadalia area of Kushtia Sadar upazila is considered as a manufacturing hub where 20 to 30 unauthorised motorised three-wheelers are made daily.
The district's police officials said they have arranged announcement through loudspeakers, asking the people concerned not to run any type of unauthorised vehicles on highways.
"We also called owners of some unauthorised vehicle making factories and ordered them to stop manufacturing those," said SM Tanvir Arafath, superintendent of police in Kushtia.
"However, the police have to consider some factors while taking action. Such vehicles are often used as convenient modes of transport for farmers who bring vegetables and other crops from fields to markets," he said.