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Bangladesh: Ban on Multiple Motorcycle Riders

(June 21, 2016) A recent hike in criminal activities committed against secular and liberal activists and members of religious minorities, using motorcycles in the commission of the crimes, has drawn the attention of the Bangladesh government. On June 6, 2016, the Home Minister announced a ban on more than one person riding pillion on motorcycles. (Bangladesh Bans Three on a Motorcycle After Killing of Policeman’s Wife, DECCAN CHRONICLE (June 6, 2016).)

The most recent incident that caught the attention of the government is the murder of a police officer’s wife. According to news reports, the officer whose wife was killed was responsible for operations against religiously motivated armed groups, and his success in fulfilling his assigned tasks may be a reason behind the killing. The authorities have blamed homegrown Islamists for the attacks, rejecting the claims of responsibility issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and by a South Asian branch of Al-Qaeda. (Bangladesh Bans Multiple Motorcycle Passengers After Attacks, DAILY MAIL (June 6, 2016).)

The victim was attacked by unidentified assailants near her residence when she went out to drop off her son for the school bus. Three assailants, one driver and two passengers, came close to the victim, who was first stabbed and then shot to death. (Police Super’s Wife Shot Dead, PROTHOM ALO (June 5, 2016).)

In addition to this latest murder, suspected militants have used motorcycles in several other attacks across the country, including the killings of an Italian aid worker, a Japanese national, a university professor, and minority religious leaders. (Farid Ahmed & Tim Hume, Police Officer’s Wife Slain in Possible ‘Militant Revenge’ in Bangladesh, CNN (June 5, 2016).)

Relevant Legal Provisions

The law that prescribes the number of passengers allowed on a motorcycle was promulgated in 1983, but it has not been strictly enforced. Chapter VII of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance of 1983, section 100, clearly states:

  • No driver of a two wheeled motor cycle shall carry more than one person in addition to himself on the cycle and no such person shall be carried otherwise than sitting on a proper seat securely fixed to the cycle behind the driver’s seat.
  • No driver of a two wheeled motor cycle shall drive any motor cycle unless he wears a helmet of the prescribed type or carry any person on a motor cycle unless that person wears a helmet of the prescribed type. (The Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983 (Sept. 22, 1983, as amended up to 2010), VII, § 100, LAWS OF BANGLADESH).)

A notice on the enforcement of the above section was sent to the related agencies. A similar notice was published for the drivers and passengers of motorcycles about the ban on more than one passenger. (Notice Against Driving Motorcycle in Violation of Law, BANGLADESH ROAD TRANSPORT AUTHORITY (June 6, 2016).)

In 2015, the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges had imposed a similar ban on motorcycle drivers carrying passengers, after it became a common practice for miscreants to explode crude bombs in public places, especially on busy streets, and to carry out arson attacks using motorcycles.  (Only 2 People on Each Motorbike, DAILY STAR (June 7, 2016).) This ban was announced under section 88 of the 1983 Ordinance, on “the power to restrict use of vehicle,” which states that the government may prohibit or restrict the driving of any type of motor vehicles when it deems it necessary to do so in the interests of public safety or convenience. Such measures should be announced in the Official Gazette. (The Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1983 (Sept. 22, 1983, as amended up to 2010), Ch. VII, § 88, LAWS OF BANGLADESH).)