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Unbridled mugging in city transport system

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18th-Mar-2017       
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RAMPANT extortion by muggers and unruly cadres is dominating the bus routes in the capital despite the law enforcing agencies' repeated assurances to end such  extortion. Around 7,500 buses now run by over 80 transport companies in city streets but they have to pay hefty amount of money on daily to monthly basis at various points controlled by many groups from operatives of transports unions to ruling party men. Transport companies have taken it almost a routine payment obligation if they have to run buses free from troubles. Police are also equal beneficiary from such extortion  at almost every city point.

Extortion in city transport system is now common. Better say, it is now the rule of city transport system. Various groups collect several crores taka in cash from buses plying on 28 routes in the capital each day. If any transport worker denies paying; he meets harassment and vehicles may come under attack. This is an informal system controlling the city roads and in case of refusal to comply with the 'so-called rules' it is just very harshly treated.

Owners however don't find it a big problem to pay. They take extra fare from the passengers in the name of 'seating service' or 'direct service' to recover the payment and keep the muggers happy. There are also allegations that the fare in bus tickets based on mileage distance is being also manipulated to collect extra money although passengers are not aware or helpless to call for a review.

As per reports a bus driver pays between Tk 400 to 500 as 'terminal money' before leaving the bus depot, Tk 100 as City Corporation hansil', and Tk 50 to get serial. Besides, one has to pay local agents of the ruling party area leader, to welfare funds of various owners' and workers' associations. Bus owners have to pay for each bus at Fulbaria, Mohakhali,  Gabtoli, Saidabad and Bahadur Shah Park area. Route committee collects money on monthly basis for using terminals.

Dhaka Sarak Paribahan Samiti reportedly collects daily service charge for each bus although a functionary of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Union categorically denied it. He said their workers and staff would never involve in any such extortion.

As it shows the city transport system is helpless hostage to mugging in various names by various groups on every route and at every stoppage. The invisible hands are active overnight and since such extortion is taking place in the hands of or under the cover of political leaders with equal involvement of police and other powerful muggers' groups, it appears quite difficult to beat them. It has become part of the city transport system, and it appears that the government is not serious to fight them back. Helpless passengers are the ones footing the bills.

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