Communications Minister Obaidul Quader expressed anger on Friday over the battery-run three wheelers, known as ‘Easy Bike’ operating on highways.
“Steps should be taken against them (Easy Bikes),” he told reporters after visiting a nearly eight-kilometre stretch of Dhaka-Munshiganj highway at the weekend.
“These vehicles use four to five batteries. And these batteries are being charged with stolen power,” he said.
During his journey from Panchabati to Moktarpur, Quader stopped Easy Bikes at several spots and grilled the drivers. Peppered with questions from a Minister, some admitted to charging batteries using illegal power connection.
Around 9:30am at Panchabati, people saw Quader getting out of his car and hurrying to an Easy Bike. The driver, however, jumped from the vehicle at once and hid in a nearby shop.
The second one, ‘Sohel’, was not as lucky. Asked how he charged the batteries of his Easy Bike, Sohel told the Minister that he sourced illegal power connection to feed them.
“This is why we have to see power cuts,” an angry Quader said.
Some of the drivers told him that they had to drive Easy Bike having got nothing else to do. They, however, admitted that such vehicles are risky and without licence.
The Minister also got angry over other three wheelers running on the highways with names like ‘Nasiman’ and ‘Kariman’.
“These types of vehicles do not only create traffic jam and damage roads, but they also raise risks on life,” he said and asked local administrations to be alert to the threats these vehicles pose.
The cheap and rechargeable Easy Bikes spread in past few years amid an allegation that these vehicles, imported from China, create extra burden on power.
The Ministry of Communication started discussion to ban such vehicles last year but had yet to take any decision.
After visiting the highway, Quader said the work to build a third bridge on the river Shitalakkha would start ‘soon’ as Narayanganj is the exit point of the proposed Padma bridge.
A plan has been taken to build the Shitalakkha bridge with Tk 4.77 billion donated by Saudi Arabia, he said. “The Ministry of Planning has approved it,” he said.
“Getting money cleared in this country is so complex that it stops many good deeds,” he added.
The Minister also said it was not right to think that good roads will lessen number of accidents. “If you want to keep the roads good, you’ll have to remove the roadside markets and illegal shops.”
Bridges Division Secretary Anwar Hossain, the army’s Brig Gen Abu Sayeed Mohammad and Narayanganj-5 MP Nasim Osman were with the Minister.
The highway has recently been repaired under the supervision of the army’s 16 Engineer Construction Battalion.