Capital with no taxi service worth the name
IT is utterly disquieting that Dhaka, being the capital city of a developing country, has no modern taxicab service for citizens. Whatever exists in the name of the service is but a mockery that offers more pain than comfort to the helpless travelers. The dilapidated and ugly looking metal structures on wheels that ply on the city roads with total impunity are mostly run by unscrupulous people who fleece passengers at every opportunity as these vehicles do not have meters or any fixed fare charts. Often drivers join gangs of criminals at night to rob lone passengers. These gangs also operate a chain at the airports to force passengers in hiring their vehicles and at a fare determined by them taking advantage of their vulnerability. And it all happens because of an unprecedented lack of monitoring by any designated authority.
A report in this daily on Friday says that out of a total of 10,857 registered taxis in Dhaka, around 7,500 were refused renewal of registration by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) because of their dilapidated conditions. But, in reality, most of those ramshackle taxis are running on the streets right before the eyes of the law enforcers. The comment of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) commissioner, as given in the report, says a lot about the condition. He said that when a faulty taxicab is caught by a traffic policeman, he lets it go after fining the owner instead of seizing the vehicles. The vehicles are not hauled away as the police department has no junkyard big enough to hold them and traffic policemen avoid arresting the drivers or seizing the vehicles as that could involve going to courts for dealing with cases.
So, there is veritable mismanagement in the entire system that needs to be improved immediately through taking the old taxicabs off the roads and introducing new vehicles under a proper system. As Dhaka remains the commercial, cultural, educational and diplomatic hub, a modern, safe and affordable taxicab service is a basic one that must be ensured by the government.