CNG autorickshaw drivers, who have been criticized long for not taking passengers to their desired destinations and charging unreasonable prices, say that app-based ride sharing services have made their livelihood difficult.
Amid growing popularity of apps like Pathao, Uber, Cholo, Amar Bike, Moyur and some others, the drivers demand an end to the extra rent charged by autorickshaw owners.
Many drivers have complained that they cannot earn their livelihood from the profession if this continues and they would have to go back to hometowns.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority Chairman Md Moshiar Rahman says the situation is the fault of the autorickshaw drivers themselves.
“If they used metered fares and went to their passengers’ destinations, they would get more passengers,” the BRTA chairman told reporters on Sunday.
He added that the CNG drivers abuse their meters and they have not learned their lessons even after so many fines and sentences.
Two years back, the government set the fare per kilometre travelled and the daily deposit to owners in order to bring order to transport services with the consent of drivers and owners. Despite double fares on meters, drivers soon got back to their usual charging without meters.
The CNG Autorickshaw Workers Union Council has announced a strike in Dhaka and Chittagong from November 27 with a list of demands, including the banning of app-based transport services.
In response, Bangladeshi Facebookers have expressed their anger at autorickshaw drivers, retaliating with a call to boycott CNGs.
Kazi Mahdi, a resident of Hatirpool told Ittefaq that CNG drivers had held people hostages before. “We had to pay the fares as we had no other choice. Now we have many options. Prices on ride sharing apps are affordable and they come when we call them.”
Pathao, the first bike-sharing service in Bangladesh, says they have around 500,000 users.
“All the passengers use cars or motorcycles now. They only use CNGs when they are desperate. Some days we make Tk 200-300 after deposits. We don’t even make that some days. The owners don’t lower the deposit either,” Salauddin, a CNG driver in the Banglamotor area said.
The autorickshaw owners now take a deposit of Tk.1,000 for each day, according to drivers.
Though they know that fewer people are using autorickshaws since the apps became popular, owners say they are unwilling to lower the deposits.
“We are not lowering our rent right now,” Dhaka Metropolitan Autorickshaw Owners Association President Barkat Ullah Bulu told reporters.
He added that they had filed a petition with the High Court against illegally operated autorickshaws and they hope the trips will increase after that.