In Manikganj, more than Tk 10 crore is collected annually from various public transports. The collection was made under the banner of District Transport Owners and Workers Association. The leaders of the ruling party are the controllers of these associations. There is no activity of police or highway police to stop extortion from public transport. On the contrary, the bus owners complained that they had to pay more for the police.
Talking to the bus owners and workers, it has been learned that an average of Tk 300 is being collected daily from 600 passenger buses in Manikganj. At the end of the year, the amount of tolls on the bus is about 8 crore rupees. In the district, more than two and a half thousand three-wheeler CNG and autorickshaws collect about two and a half crore rupees. Apart from this, more than one and a half hundred small minibuses, micro and rented sedans were also levied around Tk 60 lakh.
Speaking to police, bus owners, local administration officials, it was learned that the people of Zahidul Islam, leader of the Transport Owners Association and general secretary of the municipal Awami League, were involved in raising money. Jahidul claims to be the president of the district bus-minibus-microbus-auto tempo owners group. He is accompanied by District Workers League President and District Road Transport Workers Union President Abdul Jalil.
District Superintendent of Police Rifat Rahman told Prothom Alo that it was difficult to take action against extortion without allegations. They have already received several complaints and have been sued on the basis of these allegations. “We will take action if anyone takes bribe,” he said.
Shubhayatra Paribahan operates 60 buses from Manikganj to Gulistan in Dhaka. There are several owner’s buses in Shubhayatra Transport. One such owner said that most of the income goes to contribute. He has to pay 600 rupees per bus in Manikganj and 600 rupees in Gulistan every day. At the Manikganj bus stand, a receipt was given for taking Tk 700 but not Tk 130.
Golda Highway Police Station OC Monirul Islam said they had stopped extortion on the roads. There are no allegations against them for taking tolls from any transport.
Speaking at the Municipal Awami League office near Manikganj bus stand, Zahidul Islam told Prothom Alo that he is the president of the district bus-minibus-microbus-autotempo owners group. Three years ago, he took charge of the Transport Owners’ Association, removing the extortionists and bringing order back. In response to a question as to why there are allegations of extortion, Jahidul Islam said, “Maybe some transport owners do not have proper route permits.” He paid for it in various places. But the owner said the name of the association.
Abdul Jalil, president of the district workers’ union, claimed that they took the money for the welfare of the workers. Asked how he was doing the welfare of the workers, he said, “Drivers get sick, this money is given if someone’s daughter gets married.” Besides, there are office expenses and staff, these things cost money. ‘
There are different ways to raise money in Paturia
The Paturia bus terminal is funded in a different way. Shibalaya Sadar Union Parishad (UP) chairman Alal Uddin and local transport businessman Jasim Uddin control the transport sector here.
Some bus drivers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said supporters of District Owners ‘Association president Zahidul Islam and former district workers’ league president Babul Sarkar clashed over control of the transport sector in Paturia in February. Since then, public tolls from the Paturia bus terminal in the name of workers ‘and employers’ organizations have stopped. However, the collection is being done in a different way.
What is the strategy? When asked, the transport workers said that there are 2 to 3 supervisors at the bus counter of each company. They raised money from their respective companies’ buses.
Shibalaya Sadar Union Chairman Alal Uddin is also a member of the District Owners Association. He, however, denied controlling the transport sector, saying he has five buses of Noor Kaaba Transport. Apart from this, he does not have time to think about the transport sector.
Firoz Kabir, officer-in-charge of Shibalaya police station, said he was not aware of the secret fundraising through supervisors.
Big extortion in small transport
The exact number of small three-wheeled vehicles plying in the district is not known. However, some CNG drivers said that there are at least 600 CNG route permits in seven upazilas of the district.
In the city of Manikganj, 500 to 600 three-wheelers were used to raise money under the banner of Paribahan Malik Samiti. The District Transport Owners Association also controls here.
However, Zahidul, president of the association, claimed that they took Tk 20 from each autorickshaw and Tk 30 from CNG. Of this, Manikganj municipality was given Tk 10 per autorickshaw and Tk 20 from CNG.
Talking to a CNG driver on Jayra Road near Manikganj bus stand. He drove CNG on Jayra-Tilli-Kalia road. He said he had to pay 40 rupees every day at the Manikganj bus stand. Apart from this, one has to pay 300 rupees as masohara.
Manikganj Municipality Chief Executive Engineer Billal Hossain said the municipality has leased the bus terminal for passenger buses only. There is no opportunity to take parking charge from autorickshaw or CNG.
From Manikganj bus stand to Nabinagar in Savar and from Manikganj bus stand to Baniajuri in Ghior, 40 mini minibuses run in the name of highway mini transport. They do not have a route permit. Some of the owners of these buses said that they have taken the car to the road by paying tribute to the Transport Owners Association. You have to pay 400 rupees per bus per day.
Mahidul Islam, younger brother of Jahidul, leader of Paribahan Malik SamitiControls rented microbuses and private cars. He is president of the District Rent-a-Car Owners Association. They have to pay an average of one thousand rupees per month.