Saturday May 18, 2024

Safety continues to be problematic for bike taxis in Rawalpindi

By Our Correspondent
April 15, 2024
A representational image showing people riding motorcycles. — AFP/File
A representational image showing people riding motorcycles. — AFP/File 

Rawalpindi: Safety on two-wheelers is an issue, whether they are bike taxis or individuals on a two-wheeler who may or may not have a pillion rider. Overall safety continues to be problematic. They either do not know safety rules or do not adhere to them.

Nasir Naqvi is a college student. He also works as a bike taxi driver on a part-time basis. After his college hours, he logs into the mobile application and waits for a ride to be booked. He gets anywhere between nine to thirteen such bookings between 4 pm and 11 pm.

Hailing from a middle-class family, he says, “My parents got me this bike on loan. I also got a bank loan to pursue my higher studies. This part-time job as a bike taxi driver allows me to at least meet my daily expenses and provide a little for my family. On average, I earn 2500 rupees a day.”

There are hundreds of people like Naqvi, who work as part-time bike taxi drivers for additional income. That helps them make both ends meet. Bike taxis in the city are becoming increasingly popular with users of app-based taxi bookings, as they are cheaper and faster.

Naveed Hussain lives in Tench Bhatta and travels to Islamabad for work every day. He takes the bike taxi from his home to the Saddar metro station. From there he takes the metro to Islamabad and then takes another bike taxi to reach his office.

“During peak hours it is almost impossible to board a bus and autos are not an affordable option. Whereas, when I take a bike taxi, it only costs cheaper from Tench Bhatta to Saddar and another bike taxi to reach my office from the metro station,” he says.

Shabbir Ali finds the bike taxis more accessible than autos although he prefers autos. “On multiple occasions, I have tried to book an auto or a cab but it was only a waste of time. Besides, the auto drivers demand extra cash and agree to accept the ride only if we agree to pay them. Compared to the autos, it is easier to book a bike taxi,” he says.

Conversations with several regular users of bike taxis in the city reveal that easy accessibility, cost efficiency, and first and last-mile connectivity are the major reasons they prefer bike taxis to other modes. This clearly shows that bike taxis have become a popular mode of transport, especially for first and last-mile connectivity.

Mohsin Zaidi says that he had fallen on the road a couple of times during his ride in a bike taxi. “The roads were slippery due to rain and so I fell. Luckily, it was not a major accident, he says, adding that some drivers are also not very experienced and that adds to the safety issues.”