Transport workers have enforced a countrywide strike protesting bus driver Jamir Hossain’s life sentence in a case filed over the deaths of five people, including cinematographer Tareque Masud and journalist Mishuk Munier in 2011.
The strike began around 6am on Tuesday.
Pro-government Transport Workers’ Federation in Dhaka announced the countrywide strike in a meeting held at its Motijheel office on Monday night.
Khulna divisional Bus Minibus Owners Association Joint Secretary Anwar Hossain Sona said: “No intra-district bus has left. All the workers are observing the strike keeping aside their differences.”
Azizul Alam Mintu, president of Bangladesh Workers’ Federation’s Khulna division, told the Dhaka Tribune: “The strike has been called in the interest of the works. No vehicle has left from the division.”
Laila Akhter, a Bagerhat-bound passenger, said: “We are suffering a lot because of the strike. We have to go to Rupsa first to cross the river and then travel 10 to 12 kilometres on a peddle van just to go to Kata Khali.
“It is a lengthy process.”
“I heard that the strike was withdrawn last evening [Monday] and so I decided to go to Barisal with my family. Now I am in a hassle as no bus is leaving the district,” said Akbar Sheikh, a passenger at Khalishpur’s Shonadanga Bus Stand.
Earlier on Monday, Khulna Motor Workers’ Union General Secretary Md Zakir Hossain withdrew the indefinite transport strike being observed in 10 districts of the division from Sunday, demanding Jamir’s release, after an exchange of views meeting with district administration officials.
But the central leaders rejected the withdrawal decision.
On Sunday, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, executive president of the Workers’ Federation, supported the strike, saying that the workers had the right to protest.
The same day, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader termed the strike unacceptable. He urged the transport leaders to withdraw the programme and suggested they move the High Court since a strike would not ensure release of a convict.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority too discussed the strike on Sunday, but failed to come up with a solution.
The transport strike first began from Chuadanga, the home of the bus driver, on February 22, the day when a Manikganj court sentenced him to life imprisonment in a landmark verdict, which is the highest punishment for any road accident in the country that occurs mostly due to the recklessness of the driver.