Rickshaw free capital
Thanks to Mr Rahat for his letter in DS,19 May, but sadly it is once again a strange and hilarious mixture of pure guesswork, passing the buck, grudging admission, plaintive cries, palpable falsehood, blaming others, impractical solutions, pipe dreams, wishful thinking, pious hopes and suppressed facts. Point by point he says:
Pure guess work: Rickshaws have massive negative impact on Dhaka roads! (Is catering to the livelihood of about 2 million rickshaw-related poor people and 3 million users of rickshaws every day, NEGATIVE?)
Passing the buck: Traffic jam on rickshaw-free roads are caused by the rickshaws in the side roads and lanes! (Best joke of the day! The side roads are already full of parked cars Star City, 19 May)
Grudging admission: We have, perhaps, more vehicles on our roads than they can manage! (AHA! The penny is finally beginning to drop. But why PERHAPS?)
Plaintive cries : But that does not justify rickshaws free to roam about! (So, what to do about the 5 million pedestrians you will be letting loose on the roads every day.?)
Repetition : It is not feasible to have both motorized and rickshaws on the road because….(Same old argument. Please go to the Cantonment and see for yourself how they co-exist with the application of a little discipline under existing laws).
Blaming others: Rickshaws are the cause of most road accidents! (This falls under the category HILARIOUS! Of course, car, bus, truck drivers with forged licenses can do no wrong and it is OK, if vehicles that should be in museums get fitness in a jiffy)Impractical solutions: More public buses to replace rickshaws! (Will they also go into side lanes where all those precious cars are parked?)
Pipe dreams: We can dream of Mass Transit Systems! ( Most certainly you can, but tell me how do I get home tonight and to office tomorrow?)
Wishful thinking: Once rickshaws are removed, other forms of transport will become available and affordable. (WHAT??????)
Pious hopes: Unemployed rickshaw-pullers will be employed in garments and other export-oriented industries! (And presumably joining existing workers in vandalizing factories, cars etc)
Suppressed facts: Finally Mr Rahat does not say anything about, the Gas-Guzzling Monstrosities, Oil heading towards $ 150/brl and beyond, discriminatory cops, problem for the old, infirm, disabled, small traders, women, children in moving about, check on unlicensed rickshaws, blaring horns, glaring lights, etc etc.
Finally Mr Rahat asks us to pray for rickshaw-free roads. While you are praying, please spare a thought for the poor rickshaw-walas who are the 'poorest of the poor. They belong to the category of workers who work the hardest to provide a necessary service at a nominal cost without pollution, noise, or expense in foreign exchange.