Opposing Private Enterprise, World Bank Seeks to Eliminate Thousands of Honest Jobs in Bangladesh
|January 12, 2005||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Opposing Private Enterprise — World Bank Throwing Thousands Out of Honest Jobs
Dhaka’s Rickshaws Under Threat: Part of the World Bank’s War on the Poor
Is the World Bank completely stupid? Let’s see.
- “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” — Nope, the World Bank never heard of that idea.
- “Private enterprise is good.” — Nope, not that one either.
- “Do not create more pollution needlessly.” — Nope, missed that one too.
This rather angry report comes from the World Carfree Network.
In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, most journeys are made on foot, and bicycle rickshaws are the main form of vehicular transport. Rickshaws are an efficient, non-polluting way to move around, and for many people without other job skills, pedalling a rickshaw is the only option other than begging or crime. It is estimated that five million people in Bangladesh are dependent on the income of rickshaw pullers for their survival.
Fatcat Bureaucrats Resent Successful Small-scale Private Enterprise
While rickshaws, or bicycle taxis, have been introduced successfully in Western cities such as New York and Berlin, the World Bank has shown nothing but hostility towards rickshaws in Dhaka. Although rickshaws are currently the dominant mode of vehicular transport in Dhaka, the World Bank would rather forcibly impose reliance on automobiles, withough regard for the specific situation in Bangladesh. The World Bank is trying to create an artificial increase in mass motorization, fossil fuel dependence, traffic jams, dirty air, and accelerated climate change.
Under pressure from the World Bank, the City of Dhaka government announced that starting December 17,2004, it plans to ban rickshaws and non-motorized transport from an important road in Dhaka – Mirpur Road from Russell Square to Azimpur. This is part of the World Bank-funded Dhaka Urban Transport Project, which has run since 1999 and is now coming to a close. But this initial ban is just one part of a much larger World Bank plan that would eliminate rickshaws from all eight major roads (120 km) in this city of ten million people.
Pushing rickshaws off the main roads would allow motor vehicles to become the dominant mode of vehicular transport in the city. At the same time, the World Bank is pressuring the Bangladeshi government to pass a law absolving it in advance from all legal liability for any harm that results from its policies.
Private Enterprise versus Government Interference
Increasing artificial limitations on rickshaws in Dhaka are causing untold hardship to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society, reducing the mobility of the middle class (particularly women, children, and the elderly), and contributing to air pollution and dependency. Meanwhile, those roads that have already completely banned non-motorised transport are still badly affected by traffic jams, which rickshaws had falsely been charged with causing.
World Carfree Network, concerned organisations in Bangladesh and around the world, and Dhaka’s many rickshaw unions are all working to save the rickshaws. If the most vulnerable members of the population are to lose their employment and go hungry, it will not happen without opposition — but banning rickshaws and building highways while people face starvation is nothing short of a war on the poor. Shame on the World Bank and its funders.
World Bank Chooses to Embrace Corruption, Pollution and Corporate Welfare
What’s your opinion? Should the rickshaws be closed down, or would it be better to close the World Bank instead? Tell your views to The Progress Report!