Meter-rigging by auto-rickshaws upset Dhaka commuters

The auto-rickshaw drivers have always fleeced commuters, often refusing to go by meters and insisting on lump-sum payments over select distances.

Now they use meters but allegedly rig them.

Traffic police, flooded with complaints of high charges commuters are forced to pay, say they do not have the necessary equipment to track down the rigged meters.

The CNG-run three-wheelers took over the Dhaka streets in 2003, replacing the two-stroke scooters.

Though these vehicles are popular because they can dribble their way through Dhaka's precarious traffic, the drivers tend to fleece commuters.

The government in November last year hiked the fares to Tk 40 for first two kilometers from Tk 25 and to Tk 12/km from Tk 7.64/km.

Even after that, drivers often charge Tk 20-50 more than the amount shown in the meters. Now they have started rigging meters.

Assistant Commissioner Mahbubur Rahman of traffic police , admitted this was happening. "Many complaints remain unresolved as we cannot examine the meters due to lack of necessary equipment."

Ruhul Amin, motor vehicle inspector of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), said: "The BRTA mobile courts have found many rigged meters. The drivers get their meters fixed through IT experts."

Though the BRTA takes some precautionary steps before issuing the meters, the auto drivers 'somehow' manage to rig them, said Mohammad Sultan, an official of the Meter Calibration Department of the BRTA.

Crystal Agency distributed 2,600 Taiwan-made meters in Dhaka and 2,250 in Chittagong.

Wali Ullah, a senior official of the distribution company, said, "The auto drivers tamper the meters with help of unscrupulous technicians."

He suggested password-protected meter systems to deal with this menace.

Source: BD News