Three-wheeler and battery-run easy-bike drivers of the town have demanded cancellation of tender bid for 'illegally' collecting toll from the vehicles.
They held different programmes in the town for the last several days to realise the demand. They also placed memorandum to the authorities concerned in this regard.
The drivers said more than two months of complete lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak have affected them a lot. Many have borrowed money to run their family. In this situation, they are forced to pay illegal toll in the name of 'Pouro Kar' (municipality tax), which is greater burden for them.
A driver said as their income has dropped sharply due to coronavirus outbreak, it has become difficult for them to pay toll every day to the lessee of the municipality after paying the easy bike owner Tk 300 daily.
He has to pay Tk 10 to the men of the lessee every day, said easy bike driver Khairul Alam.
A section of people blessed by several leaders of the ruling party have been collecting illegal toll from the drivers in the name of 'Pouro Kar' (municipality tax) for the last one year, said Mahbubur Rahman Rubel, president of Thakurgaon District Easy-bike Workers' Union.
Thakurgaon municipality authority on June 1 floated a tender to collect toll from easy bikes for the next financial year 2020-2021 and since then the drivers have been demanding cancellation of the tender bid, he said.
Mahbubur further said in the last fiscal year, the lessee won only a Tk 3.33 lakh tender bid through a syndicate. But they collected Tk 10 from around 4,000 easy-bikes every day. The amount stood about Tk 1.44 crore yearly.
The extortionists are also collecting Tk 50 from each of the good-laden trucks, tank-lorries and tractors plying through the municipality daily, he alleged.
Lessee Abu Bakkar Siddique said they are collecting toll from easy-bikes and other vehicles following instruction from the municipality.
Mayor of the municipality Mirza Faisal Amin said the municipality floats a tender every year to give lease for collection of toll from the vehicles plying on the roads in the municipality. There is no chance to stop toll collection.
However, in the crisis time, the matter will be considered if the easy-bike drivers submit an application to get relief from the toll collection, said the mayor.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Moniruzzaman said there is no scope to collect illegal toll from the vehicles on roads.
Strict action will be taken against those responsible for the offence after getting complaint in this regard, said the SP.