Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has decided to issue permits for as many as 4,000 new CNG-run auto-rickshaws in Chattogram once it completes scrapping an equal number of old three-wheeler public transport vehicles that provide last-mile connectivity in the port city.
BRTA resumed scrapping 15-year-old CNG-run auto-rickshaws in Chattogram on November 16 last year, after a gap of nearly eight months. The drive remained suspended for most of last year in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Till December 31, some 3,619 vehicles were dismantled under the scrapping process, as per figures shared by BRTA.
In 2001, officials said, BRTA issued some 26,000 permits for CNG run auto-rickshaws for plying in the cities of Dhaka and Chattogram. The tenure of the permits was initially fixed at nine years. However, the tenure was later extended to 15 years, following the demands of owners and drivers of CNG-run auto-rickshaws.
Already 13,000 auto-rickshaws have been dismantled in Dhaka till now, as per the order of the Transport Ministry. Besides, nearly 5,500 vehicles, made between 2001 and 2003, were also scrapped between 2018 and 2019 in Chattogram.
Touhidul Hossain, assistant director of BRTA (Chattogram circle), said, "We have announced the policy to scrap old CNG-run auto-rickshaws through advertisements. The scrapping process is going on without any hassle."
UNB has learnt that several private firms, contracted by BRTA, are providing replacement numbers to owners of old and unfit CNG-run auto-rickshaws on a fixed charge, thus eliminating the need for middlemen in the process.
Nurul Islam, who owns a CNG-run auto-rickshaw, said, "At first, brokers demanded Tk 1.40 lakh from me. Then I came to know about private firms, appointed by BRTA to facilitate the scrapping process, and contacted them. I took four of my old CNG-run auto-rickshaws to BRTA for scrapping."
When contacted, Mohammad Shahidullah, deputy director of Chattogram BRTA, said, "The scrapping process is going on as per the rule in the presence of a magistrate as well as an intelligence team to ensure that no one is harassed. There is no chance of irregularities in the process and the owners of old vehicles are getting the replacement numbers easily."