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Rana Hanif

The Report

Ten lakh unregistered rickshaws can be good source of revenue

২০১৫ অক্টোবর ০৪ ১৬:১৫:৫৬
Ten lakh unregistered rickshaws can be good source of revenue

The two Dhaka city corporations are being deprived of crores of taka in revenue income because of indecision and indifference. The people concerned think the city corporations can raise its revenue income two to three times only by taking a decision. They said it would be possible only from the ten lakh rickshaws plying the city roads.

The major sources of revenue income for the Dhaka city corporations include housing tax, trade licence issuance and renewal, lease of the markets and public toilets, billboard rent and the revenue from inter-district bus and truck terminals.

According to the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) budgets, the DSCC set a target to earn Tk 597 crore 57 lakh in revenue from 25 sectors in the fiscal year 2014-15. But the revised budget showed that the income stood at Tk 394 crore 33 lakh. In the current fiscal year the target for earnings has been set at Tk 632 crore 9 lakh.

A review of the budget for the fiscal year 2014-15 reveals that the target for collection of holding tax, lighting and cleanliness taxes was set at Tk 275 crore. But at the end of the fiscal the income from those sources stood at Tk 174 crore 20 lakh. In the current fiscal year the target of revenue income from the three sources has been set at Tk 285 crore.

The target of income from market rents and donations was set at Tk 122 crore. But the actual income from the sources stood at Tk 70 crore in the last fiscal. In the current fiscal the target of income from the sources has been set at Tk 130 crore.

Though the DSCC is not issuing any new licence for rickshaw, it set a target to collect Tk 3 crore 48 lakh only in renewal fees on the rickshaws last fiscal. But the income from the source exceeded their target. At the fiscal year-end the renewal fees on rickshaws fetched Tk 3 crore 70 lakh.

Though the income from the source in the last fiscal exceeded the target, the DSCC has set an unusually lower target of revenue income from it this fiscal. The target of income from the source is Tk 1 crore 20 lakh.

When asked about the sharp fall in the target of revenue collection, DSCC revenue section chief Md Mostafa Kamal told The Report, “After bifurcation of the city corporation, the number of rickshaws under the jurisdiction of the two city corporations has also been divided. Based on addresses the rickshaws are divided. After bifurcation of the city corporation, the Dhaka North City Corporation has not renewed any rickshaw licence so far. In consultation with the Dhaka North City Corporation, the Dhaka South City Corporation is still renewing the licences. The North City Corporation has informed us that they will renew the rickshaw licences in their part in the current fiscal. So, we have cut the target of revenue income from this source this fiscal.”

On the other hand, the review of the budgets of the Dhaka North City Corporation reveals that the North City Corporation set a target to earn Tk 810 crore 77 lakh from 24 sectors in the fiscal 2014-15. But it earned Tk 521 crore 46 lakh in the fiscal. In the current fiscal year the target is Tk 882 crore 15 lakh.

The North City Corporation set a target to earn Tk 390 crore in the last fiscal in holding tax, cleanliness and lighting tax. But at the yearend the income stood at Tk 260 crore. In the current fiscal the target of revenue collection from the three sources is Tk 410 crore. The target for market rents and donations was set at Tk 167 crore 50 lakh. But the actual earning stood at Tk 16 crore. In the current fiscal year the target has been fixed at Tk 174 crore.

Though no new rickshaw licence is issued, the target for renewal fees on rickshaw licences has been fixed at Tk 50 lakh. But there has been no income from this source so far.

In the last fiscal year the North City Corporation did not renew any rickshaw licence. But in the current fiscal year the North City Corporation will issue renewed licences. So, the city corporation has set a target to earn Tk 50 lakh from the source this fiscal.

The undivided city corporation last issued new rickshaw licences in 1987. At that time the number of registered rickshaws in the city was about 88,000. Though new rickshaw licences were not issued, still the number of unregistered rickshaws increased every year. As there is no new rickshaw registration, none of the two city corporations has any update on the total number of unregistered rickshaws.

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Urban and Regional Plan (URP) Department said in a research in 2014 that the total number of unregistered rickshaws in the city was ten lakh. But those unregistered rickshaws were plying the city roads using the names of 25 organisations. The rickshaw owners were required to take membership of these organizations before introducing their new rickshaws in the city.

Of the 25 organisations accounting for the unregistered rickshaws, in the leading positions are the Bangladesh Rickshaw and Van Owners Federation, Jatiya Rickshaw Van Sramik League and Bangladesh Rickshaw Owners’ League.

But the leaders of the Bangladesh Rickshaw and Van Owners Federation cannot say how many rickshaws are there under the Federation. The organization is giving conflicting figures on the unregistered rickshaws.

But they said the total number of unregistered rickshaws were about two lakh being run under the 25 organisations. They claimed that about 50 thousand rickshaws were running under the federation.

But in reality it has been found that there are more than one lakh and 50 thousand rickshaws running in the city under the federation.

This correspondent of The Report came across a rickshaw bearing the serial number-144690. When asked, the president of the organization concerned RA Jaman told The Report, “No new registration number was given in the city after 1987. We repeatedly met the city corporation and the communication ministry people. But they could not take any decision on registration of new rickshaws. Regarding the registration of new rickshaws we met the then city mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka, communication minister Nazmul Huda and the police administration on November 6 in 2001. In the meeting it was decided that alongside the 86,000 rickshaws already registered, another 35,000 new rickshaws and 8,000 vans totaling 43,000 would be registered by the city corporation. As per the decision we signed an agreement with the city corporation. Under the agreement, the city corporation gave us 15 days to decide in consultation with the rickshaw owners about who would get how many rickshaws registered. Within 17 days we met the communication minister. At that time the mayor was in London. We then requested the communication minister to raise the number to 50,000 from 43,000. Later we contacted the then DMP commissioner. Then the commissioner advised us to run the rickshaws under the owners’ federation until the city corporation issues the new licences.”

RA jaman also said, “Later we contacted the city corporation many times. But no decision was taken about registration of the rickshaws. On the other hand, the police administration also started seizing the rickshaws on the roads. Later we all of the owners’ federation filed a civil case bearing the number 248/2012 with the Dhaka third assistant judge’s court. The case is still under trial. The court has said until disposal of the case there is no bar to running the 43,000 rickshaws as per the deal signed with the city corporation.”

When asked how many rickshaws and vans were there against the permission for 43,000, he said, “We have no exact figure on how many are there on the roads. But under our organization there are about 50,000 rickshaws. In total, there are about two lakh rickshaws in the city.”

The private organization Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust in a research in 2012 said there were more than 8 lakh unregistered rickshaws in the city. The rickshaws were registered with the Rickshaw and Van Owners Federation in the absence of registration from any government entities like the city corporation. The registration cards bearing their serial numbers were being issued by this organization on payment of a certain amount of fees. The unregistered rickshaws were plying carrying these cards on the backs.

A research of the URP said about two crore and 25 lakh trips are being made in the city every day. They include 76 lakh rickshaw trips. According to the research, one-third of the trips are made by rickshaws.

BUET URP Department Associate Professor Mosleh Uddin told The Report, “In a research of our department we have found that there are about 10 lakh unregistered rickshaws in the city. We have learnt from the rickshaw owners that they have to take registration numbers from the Rickshaw and Van Owners Federation on payment of Tk 3,000 in fee for every new rickshaw. At the end of the year they have to get the registration renewed.”

Mosleh Uddin also said, “The two city corporations in Dhaka are the two guardians. Though legally the power and obligation of the city corporations have been curtailed to some extent, if the city corporations can exercise what is left, they will not need to depend on others. If there are 10 lakh rickshaws in the city and if the city corporations register them instead of eviction and the registration is renewed every year, they can earn more than one hundred crore taka from this source. But at present they are not getting even one crore taka from this source, whereas the organisations that are getting political blessings are earning crores of taka from it. The city corporation was supposed to get the money. Now the city corporations will have to take the decision. They have spent a lot of time thinking over it. They have to take the decision immediately.”

When asked about this, DSCC’s chief revenue officer Md Mostafa told The Report, “In 1987 about 88 thousand rickshaws were registered. Now those rickshaws are getting their licences renewed. For about 28 years there has been no new rickshaw licence. But the number of rickshaws in the city has increased more than ten times. Actually the city corporation cannot take any unilateral decision on rickshaws, because, the BRTA, Dhaka Road Transport Authority and Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Traffic Department also take decisions on Dhaka roads. Now we have to take a decision in a coordinated way. We also can understand that we are deprived of huge revenue in the absence of a decision.”

Ends/thereport24.com/AR/Oct 4, 2015