Despite protest of the CNG-run auto-rickshaw, auto-tempo and all non-motorised vehicle owners and drivers, the government will not backtrack from its decision of banning those and non-motorised lighter and slower vehicles on the national highways across the country.
Roads Transport and Highways Division Secretary MAN Siddique on Sunday told journalists that government clamped down the restriction only on 3,570 km out of total 2.5 lakh km of the national highways.
"The government will implement its decision by any means and won't take a U-turn," he said.
The government launched drives from last Saturday on all the highways against lighter vehicles.
On July 27, in the wake of increasing fatal accidents, the government banned auto-rickshaws and paddle-run vehicles from plying on highways across the country from August 1.
Since Saturday, when the ban came into effect the law-enforcers have set up mobile courts on highways and fined three-wheelers defying the ban.
When asked about the protest and agitation, the Secretary said without knowing or understanding, the owners and drivers are protesting the decision of the government. However, the government doesn't have any plan to backtrack.
"We have said that the three-wheeler CNG-run auto-rickshaw, auto-tempo and all non-motorised vehicles won't be allowed to ply in 3,570 km of the highways in the country. Those are open for plying in the rest of the roads. The roads that are open for those vehicles are around 98.5 per cent of the total length of the roads," he added.
The Secretary said the decision was taken to control road accidents in the highways. There are three reasons of road accidents. These are black spots, education and enforcement. Slower and lighter vehicles also contribute to road accidents.
"The black spots on the highways have already been identified. We are working to eliminate the black spots by improving the roads. We hope that no accident will take place for faulty roads from next year. We will then start working on education and enforcement," Siddique said.
He also said that the law enforcers including the Divisional Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Deputy Inspectors General and Superintendents of Police have been instructed to enforce the decision of the government strictly.
Meanwhile, the CNG-run auto-rickshaw drivers continued their protests on Sunday against the ban.
Protestors blocked several parts of the major highway in Narayanganj and Chittagong, our local correspondents report quoting police and locals.
On the second day of their agitation, road routes to Dhaka were cut off from the country as protests took place in several other districts with some turning into violent confrontation with police.
Nazrul Islam, Officer-in-Charge of Bandar Police Station told our Narayanganj correspondent that the blockade was enforced for about half an hour starting from 11:15am. Police brought the situation under control.
Our Chittagong correspondent adds CNG and auto-rickshaw drivers and owners blocked the Dhaka-Chittagong highway at Faujdarhat around 12:50pm. Md Shahidullah, Officer-in-Charge of Baro Aulia Police Station, said police dispersed them.
Their agitation on Sunday has caused huge tailback on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway, witnesses said.
Our Tangail correspondent said that police foiled separate attempts of organising demonstration in Tangail Sadar and dispersed blockaders from the highway at Elenga under Kalihati upazila. Protesters threatened an indefinite strike throughout Tangail.
Our Savar correspondent reports that more than 100 CNG-driven auto-rickshaw drivers and owners blockaded the Dhaka-Aricha highway near Savar bus stand around 11:00am, Police charged batons triggering a cat-and-mouse chase between the two groups that halted vehicle movement on the important highway for nearly an hour.
Our Sylhet correspondent adds that CNG run three-wheeler and auto-rickshaw labour union called an indefinite strike in Sylhet from today protesting the ban.
Mohammad Zakaria, president of the union in Sylhet, threatened to continue the strike unless the government withdraws the ban. "It is our main source of income."