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‘No commission for apps’: Motorcyclists in Dhaka are willing to share rides, not the fare

Moidul Mamun, a private service holder, was having difficulties booking a motorcycle ride from Mohakhali to Dhanmondi via a ride-sharing app. One motorcyclist refused to offer him a ride after learning about his destination.

Another motorcyclist agreed to take him but asked him to cancel the ride on the app.

“Motorcycle rides cannot be booked via apps anymore. Motorcyclists are on every corner of the streets but you have to bypass the apps if you want to travel,” said a frustrated Moidul.

Commuters said they could book a ride to their destination from any location in the capital through the apps earlier. Now, people are forced to go to key points where a ‘syndicate’ of motorcyclists offer service, but more than what the apps charge.

Not only are these rides expensive, but they are also unsafe as they are not tracked and do not ensure the driver or the vehicle’s eligibility.

“It is my motorcycle. I buy my own fuel and maintain the vehicle myself. I am paying for the internet too. Why should I pay money to the app firms then?” said Zahidul Islam, the motorcyclist who agreed to take Moidul by cancelling the ride on the app.

Belal Ahmed, general secretary of Dhaka Ride-sharing Drivers Association which has nearly 3,000 members, thinks around 200,000 travellers use ride-sharing services but 90-95 percent of them do not use apps.

Sheikh Mohammad Mahbub-e-Rabbani, a director of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, condemned such practices and urged police to act against the violation of ride-sharing rules.

Shahed Al Masud, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s traffic department, said they alone cannot bring the situation under control because of the “complexity” of the issue.

Motorcycle ride-sharing gained popularity in Dhaka, a city infamous for its traffic jams, after the launch of the app-based service in 2016. After allegations of irregularities surfaced, BRTA made guidelines for ride-sharing and those were passed in 2018.

After a good couple of years, the apps were shut down temporarily in 2020 due to restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some motorcyclists started offering rides on a contractual basis to support their families at the time.

Although the restrictions were lifted and the apps restarted services, the number of contract-based motorcycle rides increased day by day.

However, apps are still popular for car ride-sharing.


Motorcyclists say the 25 percent commission taken by the apps is too much and the fare has not increased after a fuel price hike, which made them continue services without the apps.

Motorcyclist Alfaz, who left his vegetable business and started sharing rides, spends Tk 300 on fuel every day to earn Tk 1,000.

If he offers rides via apps, he has to pay a maximum of 25 percent commission, or Tk 250 daily, to the app firm.

After taking additional expenses of Tk 100 into account, he is left with Tk 350 per day. If he pays 10 percent commission instead of 25 percent, the daily income is Tk 500.

Alfaz offers contract-based rides only when the destination is convenient for him. “I do not have to pay a commission if I offer rides on a contractual basis.”

Nowadays, motorcyclists calling on potential passengers to offer rides as they pass by has become a common sight in Dhaka. Passengers also bargain over fares.

Several motorcyclists wait in groups in Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Airport Railway Station, Mohammadpur, Mirpur 10, Mirpur 1, Agargaon and other key points to offer rides.

At the start, everybody used apps. But after oil prices went up, ride-sharing companies ‘did not increase fares’ and that is why motorcyclists started offering contract-based rides, driver

One of them, Sohail Mia, said they offered services via the apps at the beginning, but shunned the apps because the app firms did not increase fare despite a hike in fuel prices.

“Passengers are not complaining and we are taking them. It is impossible to run a family if you have to pay such high commissions to app firms,” said Shahidul Islam Palash, another driver waiting for a passenger at Mirpur 1.

Raihan Ahmed, a motorcyclist waiting at Mohakhali’s Amtali, said: “Companies give more benefits to the passengers than they do to the drivers. There is nothing for the drivers except for passenger ratings. If the passengers give us bad ratings, we get blocked.”

However, passengers complained that they have to pay extra if the motorcyclists bypass the apps. Farhatul Hasan Ashiq, a Dhaka University student, said cheap rides are not available anymore because the drivers have united against the app firms.


Street hailing or rides availed without the app entail a lot of trouble and harassment, passengers said.

Sabbir Ahmed Shaon, a junior officer at NCC Bank who frequently takes ride-sharing services on the Moghbazar-Shahbagh route, said earlier motorbike rides were a blessing amid the traffic jams. “Now that satisfaction is not there anymore,” he said.


“I feel like an officer while pillion riding via an app as the driver is well-behaved. For the street-hailed rides, the rider doesn’t consider me as a human as no one has control over him.”

Women have complained of inappropriate behaviour when they opted for shared motorbike rides without using the app.

“I go for shared ride services as I am not familiar with all neighbourhoods in Dhaka. Many times it happens that the driver misbehaves,” said Suraiya Islam, a student at a private university. “They brake hard frequently and if I object, they claim the road is broken.”

As a woman, she faced inappropriate behaviour by the drivers most of the time, said Naureen Sultana Nishat. “Some of them, if not all, show inappropriate signs. This happens mostly when I opt for street-hailed bike rides and not through the app.”

Bike riders outside the app services denied the allegations made by the passengers and blamed “some amateur people” who took up the job for tainting their image.

Belal, leader of the ride-sharing drivers association, acknowledged that “some incidents” do take place. “This will pose a risk for the entire ride-sharing sector in near future. To address the issue, the riders should be brought back to the app service by reducing the commission. It will be under control then.”

While in the app service, security is ensured for both the driver and the passenger through registration. Non-app rides even led to mugging and murders in some cases.

In 2019, a woman disguised as a passenger hijacked the motorbike of a female driver. Motorcyclist Milon Mia was stabbed to death and his motorbike was hijacked on Malibagh flyover on Aug 26 of the same year. He was carrying a passenger he got from the street and not through the app.

Earlier on Jul 24, 2018, motorcyclist Mizanur Rahman tried to rape a woman passenger on their way to Bhatiari from Free Port in Chattogram. The woman was an intern who took the ride without using the app.

Passengers, however, are not eager to file formal complaints, police said. “We’ll take necessary action if a passenger complains,” said Biplob Bijoy Talukder, a joint commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.


As many as 15 ride-sharing companies have registered on BRTA, but only Uber and Pathao are operating motorcycle ride-sharing services.

Pathao reduced its commission to 10 percent from 25 percent for the two-wheelers as demanded by the Dhaka Ride Sharing Drivers Association in November 2021.

Even Pathao’s commission is “too much” because of a hike in the prices of fuel oil and daily necessities, said Belal.

Uber has kept the commission at 25 percent and is making a “good profit” even after paying 5 percent tax to the government, he said.  “Riders are not coming back to the app due to this high rate,” he said.

Both Pathao and Uber claimed their commission rates were “reasonable”.  ”It takes a significant amount of investment to run a ride-sharing platform in Bangladesh. The commission we receive is used as an investment for passenger services,” Uber said in a statement in reply to the queries made by bdnews24.com.

“Currently, Pathao keeps the lowest commission from the motorbike riders. After fuel prices soared in August, we increased the fare in some cases by 16-18 percent,” said Pathao CEO Fahim Ahmed.


More accidents are occurring on the Dhaka roads as there is no control and anyone can get engaged in motorbike ride-sharing services, said Ilias Kanchan, chairman of Nirapod Sarak Chai Andolan, a movement for road safety.

“BRTA should address the mismanagement in the motorcycle ride-sharing sector. It lacks monitoring. It should opt for drastic measures like revoking licences of the errant drivers.”

“We have our mobile courts to monitor them and also take legal actions against them,” said Mahboob-E-Rabbani, director of the Road Safety Department at BRTA.

He urged law enforcement agencies to take action against such motorcycle drivers.

Md Munibur Rahman, an additional commissioner of DMP, however, said the responsibility lies “more” on the BRTA.

“They should provide us with specific directives. There are some loopholes in the law which allow such incidents to happen. The new Road Transport Act does not reflect clearly on motorcycle ride-sharing, and therefore, we can’t apply the law directly.”


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