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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Clampdown on rickshaws in Dhaka
By Shahriar Karim
BBC correspondent in Dhaka

Rickshaws in Dhaka
Only 20% of 400,000 rickshaws are licensed, officials say
Officials in Dhaka have seized as many as 800 illegal cycle rickshaws over the past two days in a new clampdown in the Bangladeshi capital.

Dhaka transport officials say there are 400,000 cycle rickshaws in the city but only 80,000 are licensed.

They say the rickshaws are a major source of the capital's congestion.

A rickshaw drivers' organisation has threatened to impose a dawn to dusk strike on Saturday if the clampdown does not end.

New jobs

Dhaka City Corporation has set up police checkpoints in five places across the city to seize illegal rickshaws.

But the Bangladesh Rickshaw-Van Owners' and Drivers' Association has threatened to strike on Saturday.

It said the clampdown should stop unless authorities created alternative jobs for the rickshaw pullers.

Some pullers say they have nothing to do with the issue of licensing as they do not own the rickshaws.

"I know nothing about whether the rickshaw is legal or illegal," said one puller.

"I only drive it and pay some money to the owner each day. Only the owner can say whether he has obtained a licence for it."

Traffic congestion is a continuing problem in Dhaka. Sometimes commuters have to wait hours in jams.

The situation has worsened in the past few weeks, according to officials.

They say that forthcoming religious festivals have contributed to the increase in traffic.

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